New York power authority to provide 100% clean energy by 2030

Major new legislation also requires municipally owned properties such as hospitals and schools to switch to renewable energy by 2035. 

In what’s being heralded as a huge, historic win for climate campaigners, New York state has passed the Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA), radically changing the role of local government in the provision of clean energy.

aerial view of New York highway during daytime

The new law places obligations of the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the state’s public power provider. From January 1, 2030, the NYPA must generate only renewable energy. It must then phase out all non-renewable energy generation by the end of that year. 

NYPA, the largest state public utility in the USA, already generates more than 80% of its energy from hydropower but the new law means it will phase out six energy plants fuelled by natural gas that are usually used to meet peak demand. 

That means that the authority’s more than 1,000 customers – including local and state buildings, businesses and non-profit organisations – will now receive 100% clean energy. 

What’s more, the new law ensures that the NYPA will be the sole provider of energy to all state-owned municipal properties. That includes many hospitals, schools, housing and transport organisations. 

The NYPA can also sell excess renewable energy to residential customers and to the wider market. It will offer discounts to those on lower incomes, while it’s hoped that increasing choice will enable savings for everyone. 

There are a range of other obligations in the new law. For example, the authority must produce a 10-year climate and resiliency plan, and oversee a programme to make public buildings more energy efficient. 

For some, the most notable measure is in the wider aim for the state to get 70% of all energy from renewables by 2030. Where private utilities fail to deliver this, that responsibility may be taken into public ownership. 

‘It’s a historic win for the climate,’ Lee Ziesche from the Public Power New York coalition told the Guardian newspaper. ‘It’ll create a model of public power for the whole country, and it’s really showing that our energy should be a public good.’ 

Robert Carroll, Assemblymember for New York’s 44th District, was the prime sponsor for the new legislation, which he says will make the NYPA, ‘the most dynamic builder and owner of public renewables in the nation.’ He added that the Act is, ‘the most important Green New Deal legislation to ever pass.’

It will be interesting to see which local government bodies follow this lead. In related news, the newly formed industry association ChargeUK has announced that it will provide investment for, install and operate new EV charging points across the UK by 2030

Photo by Robert Bye.


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