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THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: DISCUSSING NEW YORK’S NEED FOR NEW ELECTRICAL GENERATION SITING LAWS

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: DISCUSSING NEW YORK’S NEED FOR NEW ELECTRICAL GENERATION SITING LAWS

Dan Krzykowski

On October 28, 2012, a full moon was on display over New York harbor.[1] Twenty-four hours later the pull of that same moon, paired with many other events, brought destruction into the greater New York Metropolitan Area.[2] Superstorm Sandy killed 43 New Yorkers, flooded 51 square miles of the city’s landmass, caused over $19 billion of damage, and shut the power off for weeks.[3] The storm was a tragedy, and a sign of things to come.[4]

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, New York City vowed resiliency.[5] They drafted reports, made plans to build retaining walls, and designed Kevlar curtains to keep water out of the subways.[6] The city fought back. Over seven years after Sandy, New York State is fighting back as well.[7] On July 18, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Communities Protection Act.[8] The Act is ambitious.[9] Among other things, the Act sets New York on the path to 100% carbon-neutral electricity.[10] To reach this goal, the Act sets out interim targets—starting as soon as 2025.[11] Following 2025, the deadlines loom in five-year intervals.[12] The Act sets out 2030 targets of 70% renewable energy and 3,000 MW of energy storage.[13] By 2035, New York plans to have 9,000 MW of offshore wind.[14] By 2040, the State plans to have 100% carbon-neutral electricity.[15] To meet these targets, New York needs to transition its electrical grid away from carbon-based fuels and towards renewable fuels. This is, of course, easier said than done.

This Note will discuss a major roadblock to the Climate Leadership and Communities Protection Act, Article 10 of the New York State Public Service Law (Article 10). Part I will discuss the current energy portfolio of New York State and the current processes for building new electrical generation facilities in the state, the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), and Article 10. Part II will highlight New York’s current problems under Article 10 including the glacial speed with which the Board approves projects. Part III will look at two other states, Texas and Washington, and evaluate how they have accelerated the growth of wind, solar, and hydro power through deregulation and cooperation with developers. Finally, Part IV will discuss how New York should alter the current structure of Article 10, using successful tactics from Texas and Washington, to meet the goals of the Climate Leadership and Communities Protection Act.

 

[1] Willie Drye, A Timeline of Hurricane Sandy’s Path of Destruction, National Geographic (Nov. 2, 2012), https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2012/11/02/a-timeline-of-hurricane-sandys-path-of-destruction/.

[2] Id.

[3] Sandy and Its Impacts, City of New York, at 13–15 (Nov. 2017), http://www.nyc.gov/html/ sirr/downloads/pdf/final_report/Ch_1_SandyImpacts_FINAL_singles.pdf.

[4] See Patrick McGeehan & Winnie Hu, Five Years After Sandy, Are We Better Prepared?, N.Y. Times (Oct. 29, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/29/nyregion/five-years-after-sandy-are-we-better-prepared.html (reminding readers of Sandy’s extensive damage and the cities current struggle to plan for “powerful and more frequent storms”).

[5] See id. (highlighting some of New York City’s extensive storm-related infrastructure changes).

[6] Id.

[7] See David Roberts, New York Just Passed the Most Ambitious Climate Target in the Country, Vox (Jul. 22, 2019), https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/6/20/18691058/new-york-green-new-deal-climate-change-cuomo (emphasizing the importance of climate legislation and New York’s extensive new law in that arena). 

[8] Id.  

[9] Id.

[10] 2019 N.Y. Sess. Laws A.8429/S.6599 (McKinney 2019).

[11] 2019 N.Y. Sess. Laws A.8429/S.6599 (McKinney 2019).

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

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