August 10, 2011

New York looks to focus on smart grid and renewables

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ratified the Power NY Act, which is being applauded by both energy companies and environmental advocates as an unprecedented shift to renewable energy. In addition, New York Independent Systems Operator (NYISO), the nonprofit organization responsible for managing the state’s energy distribution revealed plans for a $74 million statewide Smart Grid initiative. Together, the Power NY Act and the new initiative will significantly reduce energy waste and promote renewable energy with consumers.

Dayle Zatlin of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), notes, “New York State has a goal of generating 30 percent of our energy from renewable energy sources by the year 2015, and the state is on target to meeting that goal.”

The Power NY Act fills a void present since 2003 when laws related to power plant siting expired, meaning utilities could not build nonrenewable or renewable energy facilities. The new law establishes a state oversight board specifically for siting facilities, instead of delegating the process to local authorities. The new legislation is designed to streamlining the process so plants can get up and running more quickly.

Jackson Morris of the Pace University Climate and Energy Center explains, “It condenses the time frame, but I think it raises the bar of making a case of why you need to build a plant and why it serves a public need.”

The governor’s office reported, “The new law encourages investments in clean power plants and affords communities more opportunities to meaningfully participate in the siting process.

Power NY includes “on-bill” legislation, which provides low-interest loans for energy efficiency improvements in homes and businesses. The loans are paid off in instalments on the monthly electric bill. The loans have an interest rate of 3.4 percent to 3.99 percent and are made more accessible by allowing for a higher debt-income ratio if the applicant can demonstrate regular utility and mortgage payments.


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