New York approves renewable energy standard

New York approves renewable energy standard
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New York officials approved a clean energy standard on Monday that requires half of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.

The initiative, passed by the Public Service Commission, also includes a nuclear power incentive under which utilities will pay nearly $1 billion over two years to subsidize three of the state’s nuclear power plants.

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The plan’s supporters, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), see the nuclear subsidies as a way to avoid new carbon pollution as the state works toward its goal of using 50 percent renewables like wind and solar.

“We could not possibly replace those nuclear units if they were to shut,” Public Service Commission Chairwoman Audrey Zibelman said at the Monday meeting, according to Reuters.

The plan puts New York on par with California among states with the highest renewable energy mandates.

“New York has taken bold action to become a national leader in the clean energy economy and is taking concrete, cost-effective steps today to safeguard this state’s environment for decades to come,” Cuomo said. “This Clean Energy Standard shows you can generate the power necessary for supporting the modern economy while combatting climate change.”

The nuclear industry strongly supported the measure.

Entergy Corp., owner of the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant, said this year that it planned to shut down the facility. But Exelon Corp. expressed an interest in buying and operating it if the state passed its nuclear incentives.

The Robert Emmett Ginna nuclear power plant and the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station are also included in the program.

“New York’s visionary Clean Energy Standard blazes a vitally important public policy path,” Marvin Fertel, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said in a statement. “It establishes an important state policy precedent for efforts to achieve significant carbon reductions from all clean energy sources while maintaining a healthy economy.”