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June 21, 2019

NYS's Landmark Climate Legislation Aims to Cut Greenhouse Gases, Increase Renewable Energy

New York State is aggressively pushing forward its efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and promote increased reliance on renewable energy sources for electric generation. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act passed by the legislature this week is the result of a legislative compromise that reflects an agreement with the assembly and senate on two competing versions of the legislation and that manifests the governor’s “Green New Deal” announced earlier this year. The act continues New York’s push toward emission reductions across the state’s economy and furthers New York’s efforts to combat climate change.

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish a program by June 30, 2021, to require that 70 percent of electric generation from load serving entities be generated by renewable energy sources by 2030, an increase from the current standard of 50 percent renewable generation by 2030. The act also requires a zero-emission statewide electrical demand system by 2040.

Under the act, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation will develop regulations to establish greenhouse gas emission reduction limits of 60 percent of 1990 emissions by 2030 and 15 percent of 1990 emissions by 2050. The PSC and the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) are also responsible for developing a social cost of carbon, expressed in terms of dollars per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent that will serve as a monetary estimate of the value of not emitting a ton of greenhouse gas, will be developed by the PSC in consultation with NYSERDA. The PSC may also establish a limited alternative compliance mechanism for offsetting of emissions, which may not account for more than 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions limits to achieve net zero emissions, but also will not be available for electric generation sources.

The act includes a requirement for air monitoring and a program to reduce emissions of air pollutants in disadvantaged communities., setting a goal for disadvantaged communities to receive at least 35 percent of the overall benefits of spending on clean energy and energy efficiency programs.

The act creates a 22-member Climate Action Council, tasked with preparation of a scoping plan that at a minimum will include measures to achieve six GW of installed distributed solar energy capacity by 2025, nine GW of offshore wind capacity installed by 2035, three GW of energy storage capacity by 2030, and a statewide energy efficiency reduction goal of 185 trillion BTUs from the 2025 forecast. The council must also convene a “just transition working group” that will provide advice to the council and identify sites of electric generating facilities that may be closed as a result of a transition to a clean-energy sector and the issues presented by reuse of those sites.

The effects of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act are far reaching and will impact almost every aspect of the delivery and production of electricity in New York as well as many other sectors of the economy that have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions. If you would like advice and assistance on understanding the potential impacts of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act or would like to be involved in the development of the new regulations required under this law, please contact us.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Brenda Colella, partner, at bcolella@barclaydamon.com, or Danielle Mettler-LaFier, counsel, at dmettler@barclaydamon.com, or another member of the firm’s Energy, Regulatory, or Environmental Practice Areas.

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