The state of New York has passed legislation in its latest budget that will require its public power provider to source 100% clean energy for electricity production by the end of this decade. The move boosts renewable energy and could give the public more control over their energy.
The legislation allows New York Power Authority (NYPA) to build renewable energy projects as well as own and operate them, which could move more utilities away from private companies.
“It’s a historic win for the climate and for clean jobs,” said Lee Ziesche, an organizer with Public Power New York, which has advocated for this legislation for four years, as reported by The Guardian. “It’ll create a model of public power for the whole country, and it’s really showing that our energy should be a public good.”
Governor Kathy Hochul first announced the budget proposal in February 2023, and it included parts of the Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA), which had previously passed the state Senate.
The budget has passed, and with it, so have many of the aspects included in the BPRA. Its passing means that NYPA will provide electricity from renewables to state-owned properties by 2030, and municipally owned properties will switch to renewables by a 2035 deadline.
NYPA will be required to offer lower rates for renewable energy to customers with low to moderate incomes, and publicly owned utilities are already generally lower than utilities that come from privately held companies.
Further, the legislation creates a faster timeline for decommissioning the six NYPA-operated natural gas plants in the state. Formerly, they were set to be phased out by 2035 and will now be phased out by 2030.
But the Public Power New York coalition warned in a statement that the bill is designed to weaken the ability to build more renewable projects after 2035.
Still, as the largest publicly owned state utility in the U.S., NYPA’s switch to renewables could encourage similar bills in other states.
“The Build Public Renewables Act will create a new era of green union jobs in renewable energy production, slash rising energy bills, and shut down polluting fracked gas power plants in Black and brown communities—finally fulfilling the promise of the Green New Deal,” New York Public Power said in a statement. “The new policy will enable New York to meet its bold climate goals set in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) with a publicly owned system that is accountable to New Yorkers, not shareholders.”
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