November 18, 2004 | General

New York State Sets 25 Percent Renewable Energy Goal

BioCycle November 2004, Vol. 45, No. 11, p. 60
The New York State Public Service Commission adopts policy to increase use of clean technologies to meet future energy needs – including biogas systems.

LAST MONTH, the New York State Public Service Commission voted to adopt a renewable energy policy increasing to at least 25 percent by 2013 the proportion of electricity sold to consumers in New York that is generated from renewable resources. “The policy we are adopting balances a wide range of interests,” said Commission Chairman William Flynn. “Not only will it help us meet our growing demand for electricity, but it also will provide additional benefits by increasing fuel diversity, reducing exposure to fossil fuel price spikes, and increasing economic development activity from a growing renewable energy industry.”
To meet the 25 percent target, it’s estimated that New York will need to add approximately 3,700 megawatts of renewable resource generation capacity. By 2013, the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program is forecast to reduce statewide air emissions of nitrogen oxide by 6.8 percent, sulfur dioxide by 5.9 percent, and carbon dioxide by 7.7 percent.
The RPS program will consist of two tiers of eligible resources: a “Main Tier” consisting of medium-to-large-scale electric generation facilities, and a “Customer-Sited Tier” consisting of smaller, on-site – or “behind-the-meter” – technologies. Renewable resources eligible to participate in the Main Tier of the RPS Program will include biomass (e.g., farm residues, harvested wood); biogas (e.g., methane, manure digestion); liquid biofuel, wind and hydroelectric. Eligible resources in the Customer-Sited Tier include fuel cells, photovoltaic (solar) and wind technologies. With respect to waste to energy, the Commission determined that electricity generated from the mass incineration of municipal solid waste is not eligible for the RPS Program.
A major Commission objective in implementing an RPS Program is to sustain a market for renewables without perpetual dependence upon government-mandated subsidies. The Commission determined that an approach incorporating and supporting the growth of competitive retail markets for renewable resources and customer choice for renewables has a greater chance of producing a self-sustaining renewable energy industry that can build upon successes in developing renewable resources through the RPS Program. Therefore, it designed the RPS Program in a manner that relies upon a successful and thriving voluntary green power market to contribute at least one percent of the overall 25 percent goal. The complementary role for green marketing creates an incentive for proactive participation by consumers and other energy stakeholders to successfully meet or surpass the 25 percent goal and assist in the increased use of renewable energy resources.
“Ultimately, New York’s ability to meet or exceed the ambitious goals we have laid out will depend only in part on the design of this Program,” added Flynn. “Equally critical to our success is the willingness of consumers, our business community, green energy marketers and renewable technology manufacturers to support this initiative.”

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