Local officials call state’s renewable energy policy unrealistic

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 6:01 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Can you see yourself driving an electric vehicle by 2035? Making your home fully electric by 2030? The state can. It’s part of its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The state is essentially proposing to eliminate natural gas from our daily lives by 2040. A state lawmaker from the north country calls the policy unrealistic.

“It’s nuts. It’s nonsense the way they’re doing it,” said Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R. - 117th District).

“It” is the Climate Action Council’s final Scoping Plan.

The council was formed in 2019 when the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act was signed into law.

New York state says 70 percent of the state’s electricity will be generated by renewable energy in 2030. And by 2040: 100 percent.

So by 2035, expect to be driving in your all-electric vehicle.

“Take a look at all of the school buses that have to be changed. The electric school buses are going to be, on average, $110,000 more,” said Blankenbush.

Farmers will need to eventually purchase all-electric equipment.

The New York Farm Bureau wrote in a statement: “Major concerns remain including the push for electric, zero-emission agricultural vehicles when the technology does not exist for such equipment. The future commercial viability of the equipment must also be affordable and accessible for the state’s farmers.”

“The recommendations, the requirements are not realistic and I’m very concerned about what they could do to our food industry in New York state,” said Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jay Matteson.

Matteson says while the plan praised farmers for its advances so far, making the switch from natural gas to all-electric would make food processing more expensive and the ripple effect could mean fewer farmers in New York.

“Yes, eventually that ripples down through all of your farms across the state. It drives out your family farms,” he said.

Blankebush says residents will leave when gas services are no longer available in 2030, especially retirees on a fixed income.

He adds the state is putting the cart before the horse.

“If that happens, how is the grid going to handle the surge that is required to do that? If you talk to anyone in that field, they’ll tell you it’s not,” he said.

Neither Blankenbush nor Matteson are against being environmentally friendly, but both say the timeline is unrealistic.

The plan will be submitted to the governor and state legislature by January 1.

A response from the State Department of Environmental Conservation is below:

New York is advancing one of the nation’s most ambitious climate and clean energy agendas in the nation and is setting an example for other states to follow. The Climate Action Council’s Scoping Plan demonstrates what actions are needed to achieve the requirements outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act – including an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – while accounting for equity, system reliability, and a just transition. The Plan sets the course for New York to advance a clean energy future, support healthier communities, and combat climate change, while ensuring that all New Yorkers can participate and benefit from the state’s growing green economy.

There are many direct financial benefits to North Country families and businesses in reducing energy use and switching to alternatives to fossil fuels and New York’s nation-leading approach will also create new clean energy job opportunities in the region. Investments now will help to avoid the costly impacts of climate change, with analysis showing that the cost of inaction exceeds the cost of action by more than $115 billion. New Yorkers have the opportunity to experience overall cost savings as a result of increased energy efficiency provided by electric technologies that reduce reliance on combustion of fossil fuels in a variety of sectors, including the two largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions – buildings and transportation.

New York’s currently has a robust pipeline of 120 large-scale renewable energy projects, which are expected to deliver over 14,200 megawatts of clean power to the grid when completed – capable of powering over 66 percent of New York’s electricity from renewable sources once operational. NYSERDA and its partner agencies and authorities are actively working on projects under development throughout New York and continues to issue large-scale renewable and offshore wind procurements to ensure that the future pipeline of projects will be capable of providing more than 70 percent of the state’s electricity needs in 2030 with renewable energy.