Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today released a nation-leading energy efficiency initiative that will cut customers’ bills and power plant emissions, create thousands of new jobs, and lay the foundation to meet New York’s clean energy and climate pollution reduction goals. This is the latest example of the governor building out one of the boldest clean energy and climate portfolios in America.
A strong energy efficiency framework is essential to that portfolio, including ensuring that half of New York’s electricity is generated from renewable resources like wind and solar by 2030; replacing the electricity output from the Indian Point nuclear power plant without increasing carbon emissions; slashing carbon from power plants in the region through a stronger Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI); and reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. (With increased efficiency, the output from each wind turbine and solar panel can stretch even further, reducing the need to use fossil fuels to power our homes and businesses.)
New York’s new energy-savings plan importantly ensures that utilities will scale up annual electric savings until they achieve over 3 percent by 2025 (that means over 3 percent of our electric demand will be delivered from savings instead of more power), which is anticipated to result in significant benefits, including delivering roughly one-third of New York’s economywide 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goal. Currently, New York’s seven utilities are required to implement programs like weatherization and appliance rebates to only help their customers save roughly 1 percent.
The plan also establishes a training program to prepare nearly 20,000 people for new, local jobs in the energy efficiency sector.
In addition, the initiative recognizes the importance of achieving energy savings from all fuels, ensuring we are not only reducing electricity consumption, but also reducing our reliance on fossil fuels to heat buildings by promoting key carbon-reducing beneficial electrification technologies like highly efficient electric heat pumps. New York’s initiative also recognizes the need to provide energy efficiency solutions to the state’s most vulnerable residents by directing a substantial portion of the anticipated energy savings to low-income communities.
More than 50 organizations had urged the governor to adopt a comprehensive, ambitious, and equitable energy efficiency framework after he promised to announce his plan by Earth Day (Sunday, the 22). Energy efficiency is an issue that New Yorkers care deeply about: more than 8,000 petition signatures urging a strong plan were collected and delivered to the governor’s office earlier this month.
NRDC looks forward to digging into the state’s white paper that expected next week with more specific details on the new efficiency strategy—such as the annual ramp rates to get us to 3 percent savings in 2025 and cost recovery mechanisms for utilities—and to working closely with key stakeholders to develop the details of the framework to ensure that the ambitious energy savings included in the governor’s announcement are realized.
As Washington does all it can to turn back the clock on environmental progress, New York is demonstrating that it will continue to blaze forward on climate and clean energy—and is showing the critical role that states play.