NY’s Engery Plans Must Maintain Reliability & Affordability

Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

Ensuring New York’s energy grid is operating efficiently and effectively long into the future is a matter of the utmost urgency, especially during the coming weeks. Recently passed legislation aims to make significant changes to the state’s energy sector, and many concerns accompany proposed action of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). As part of the environmental legislation, the state’s Climate Action Council (CAC) is scheduled to release a Final Scoping Plan on December 19.

There are significant question marks surrounding initial drafts of the plan including how sustainable its expected reliance on renewable energy will be, how much it will cost taxpayers and what impact it will actually have on global greenhouse gas emissions considering how little New York already produces. These questions loom especially large as we have seen other states like California flounder through a rushed transition to renewable energy.

Policy analysts in New York have made some stark predictions about the draft plan. The Empire Center for Public Policy estimates energy deficits could create a supply shortage of as much as 10% by 2040. An energy shortage or blackout resulting from a strained energy grid could prove fatal during a bad summer heat wave or winter storm under those conditions.

To make matters more complicated, proponents of these drastic changes to our energy grid have also taken a strong stance against using nuclear power to supplement the renewable energy sources they are advocating. This is extremely concerning, and confusing, as nuclear energy has proven to be more efficient than and as reliable as any other source of electricity generation. To that end, according to the United Nations, nuclear power has the smallest carbon footprint of any energy source. The UN Economic Commission of Europe determined on all counts – land consumption, material use, greenhouse gas emissions and toxicity – nuclear power has the lowest impact even when compared to wind and solar power.

The International Energy Agency has said the most cost-effective way to limit carbon emissions related to energy production is to refurbish existing nuclear plants. Further still, NYSERDA estimates that New York can save $8.7 billion if it extends the licenses of upstate reactors at Nine Mile Point, FitzPatrick and Ginna.

Our Conference remains committed to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment both in New York and beyond. This, though, must be accomplished in an affordable, sustainable and reasonable manner. Clean energy is an important part of the future, but without nuclear power to supplement it here in New York, we will be facing an unprecedented energy crisis as soon as the CLCPA takes full effect. This cannot be allowed to happen.