In its most recent budget, the state of New York passed laws requiring its public power provider to obtain only clean energy for the generation of electricity by the end of this decade. The action encourages the use of renewable energy and may increase consumer control over their energy.
The law permits the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to construct renewable energy projects and control and manage them, which may cause more utilities to switch from private to public ownership.
According to Lee Ziesche, an activist with Public Power New York, which has fought for this legislation for four years, it’s a historic victory for the environment and for clean jobs. It will serve as a national example of public power and demonstrates the importance of making energy a shared benefit.
Parts of the Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA), which had already passed the state Senate, were included in the budget proposal that Governor Kathy Hochul first unveiled in February 2023.
Many of the elements mentioned in the BPRA have also been passed along with the budget. If the proposal is approved, NYPA will supply electricity from renewable sources to state-owned properties by 2030 and municipally owned facilities by 2035, respectively.
In addition to the fact that publicly operated utilities are typically less expensive than utilities provided by privately held businesses, NYPA will be compelled to provide lower prices for renewable energy to consumers with low to moderate incomes.
The Act also establishes a shorter deadline for shutting down the six natural gas plants in the state that are run by NYPA. They will now be phased out by 2030 instead of the previous deadline of 2035.
The Public Power New York alliance, however, said in a statement that the law is intended to make it more difficult to develop more renewable energy projects after 2035.
Even so, NYPA’s decision to move to renewable energy could inspire similar legislation in other states because it is the largest publicly owned state utility in the U.S.
According to a statement from New York Public Power, the Build Public Renewables Act will finally fulfill the promise of the Green New Deal by ushering in a new era of green union jobs in renewable energy production, reducing rising energy costs, and closing down dirty fracked gas power plants in Black and Brown communities.
With a publicly owned system that is accountable to New Yorkers, not stockholders, the new policy will allow New York to achieve its ambitious climate goals set forth in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).