In New York State, Investment in Renewables is Deemed a COVID-10 Recovery Plan

by Zoey Shipley

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has gained national media attention for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In many ways, he’s become a leader for many people across the nation during this time. And despite the pandemic, Solar Industry Magazine reported that “New York public authorities and agencies have passed legislation as part of the FY 2020-2021 state budget that will speed up the siting and construction of clean energy projects.”

Why This Matters: There’s been a lot of criticism that a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic should be devoid of funding for renewable energy. But New York and Gov. Cuomo are showing that, in fact, investment in renewables is an important part of any recovery. Investing in a future that provides jobs, reduces emissions, and protects our planet isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s a smart policy move. Congress should take note as they begin bargaining for Phase 4 of the coronavirus stimulus.

The Details: The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act will help New York meet its goal of obtaining 70% of its electricity from renewable sources and will create the first Office of Renewable Energy Siting in the country. This new office will work to “improve and streamline the process for environmentally responsible and cost-effective siting of large-scale renewable energy projects across New York while delivering significant benefits to local communities.”

As Clean Technica explained,

  • That more private sector investment will be attracted more quickly, by tailoring the state’s approval process to fit renewable energy projects.
  • The legislation also provides for reducing financial risk, helping to attract more private sector dollars that might otherwise go elsewhere.

Additionally, it incentivizes renewable energy projects that repurpose abandoned commercial sites, brownfields, landfills, former industrial sites, and other abandoned or underused sites.

The Response: New York is one of the largest state economies and can set an important example of how states should approach the development and expansion of renewable energy sources. This move was praised by the renewable energy industry and the NGO community alike.

Alicia Barton, president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, praised the move, stating that, 

“While Governor Cuomo and New York work tirelessly to defeat COVID-19, we must continue to move forward and confront our climate crisis in order to protect New Yorkers from the dangerous consequences of a changing climate.” 

Why Renewables in NY?: The renewable energy industry can offer new jobs to those that may have lost theirs due to the pandemic, it brings new revenue to the state that is much more reliable than fossil fuel sources, and can help lead to healthier communities.

In fact, as NRDC explained, in New York there more than 60 wind and solar projects that are ripe for construction once undergoing environmental review and permitting.

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