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Comptroller Report Offers Reality Check on Progressives’ Energy Overhaul

Weekly Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

As New York attempts to meet the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), it is becoming clearer the fears about its shortcomings are about to become a reality. More evidence of this came by way of New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli who released a report this week emphasizing how far behind the state is with respect to meeting the unrealistic demands required under the new environmental policy. 

According to the report, the state would need to increase renewable power generation by more than 200% compared to how much was being produced last year. DiNapoli notes that in order to generate the vast majority of the state’s power from renewable energy much more needs to be done. Reads the report: “… this is a big ‘if.’”

Making matters worse, the comptroller’s report also highlights some of the erratic decisions leading up to the 2019 CLCPA, indicative of the state’s poor track record when it comes to environmental policy making. It adds: “In reviewing the State’s prior performance, a case can be made that the State was inconsistent in its funding commitments to meet the goal of generating 30 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2015.” If we had a hard time hitting 30% due to a lack of coherent policy making and execution, there is little reason to be confident about the next 70% of the process. 

The stakes could not be higher. Failing to hit these benchmarks means an unreliable energy grid — and considering our needs during the cold winter months and especially warm summer ones, not having enough power is simply not an option. At the end of June, the New York Independent System Operator expressed concerns that the rush to full electrification combined with the closure of fossil fuel plants is compromising the reliability of the state’s energy grid during peak power months, especially in New York City. 

Even in a best-case scenario, the CLCPA also fails consumers as costs are expected to skyrocket either way. Energy costs are already wildly unaffordable, and a recent report that supplier National Grid is looking at another potential 21% hike for ratepayers is terrifying. Consumers already have enough to contend with considering the price of utilities, goods and other everyday items are already through the roof; the burden of transitioning to near-total renewable energy so quickly seems economically unfathomable, yet we are inching closer to it every day. 

As I have said before, New York’s power grid demands a diverse portfolio that guarantees reliable, affordable energy. Renewable energy should be a part of our energy portfolio, but it cannot be the only plan. The Assembly Minority Conference will continue to develop an energy plan that delivers reliable, affordable energy for our residents. Anything else is irresponsible and dangerous.