New York State Reaches for Green Power, Green Jobs

ALBANY, New York, February 26, 2008 (ENS) – Increasing the renewable energy supply across New York to meet 25 percent of the state’s electricity demand by 2013 – and fully funding the Renewable Portfolio Standard to make it happen – is just one of many recommendations offered Monday by a renewable energy task force chaired by Lieutenant Governor David Paterson.

Developing new business incentives to attract renewable energy technology companies that would build industry clusters in solar, wind, biomass and other technical areas is another of the task force’s 16 recommendations in the first report since its formation in 2007. Its final report is due in December.

“With the world’s climate changing and traditional dirty energy sources causing geopolitical instability, these recommendations will put New York on a path to become part of a global solution,” said Paterson.

“Increasing the state’s supply of clean, renewable energy will stem the flow of dollars out of state to pay for imported energy and will create jobs here in New York,” said Governor Eliot Spitzer. “Our challenge is not a lack of renewable energy potential, it is finding ways to effectively develop it and create economic opportunities in our own backyard.”

Developing and supporting a green collar workforce of skilled labor to support renewable energy technology companies is another of the task force recommendations. This could be done by coordinating training programs, expanding and enhancing those programs as necessary, and making training opportunities available to residents of disadvantaged communities, companies owned by minorities and women, and other small businesses.

Taking immediate action on this task force recommendation, Paul Tonko, president and chief executive of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority said his agency would invest $4 million in green collar workforce initiatives, on top of the $2 million in this year’s Executive Budget, and would also establish a Wind Energy Research and Testing Center to develop new technologies and provide workforce training.

Tonko said, “Enhancing New York’s renewable energy resources will spur energy independence, and serve as a critical foundation for economic growth and workforce expansion. As we move forward, we must continue to embrace the intellectual capacity that our state offers, and develop and support innovative technologies and alternative sources of energy that are in sync with our environmental and economic goals.”

Up to 43,000 new jobs in New York could be created by the renewable energy production needed to meet the requirement that 25 percent of New York’s electricity come from renewable sources, the task force states in its report.

The task force also recommends increasing the generation of solar power eight-fold across New York state in the next three years to develop over 100 megawatts of solar power by 2011.

A one-megawatt electric plant running continuously at full capacity can power 778 houses each year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Because solar power is variable depending on the Sun, 100 megawatts would power fewer than 7,780 houses, but would still help supply New Yorkers’ demand for electricity.

Made up of 20 members, the Renewable Energy Task Force represents a diverse array of stakeholders in the renewable energy field – renewable energy and alternative fuel industries, environmental and agricultural communities, academia, public utilities, local and state government entities, and experts in energy policy, green building construction and economic development.

Maple Ridge Wind Farm, Lewis
County, New York. (Photo
courtesy PPM Energy)

“This first report demonstrates that with bold and effective public policy, New Yorkers need not be subject to the false choice between job creation and a clean environment. In reality, one of the biggest beneficiaries of a clean and green New York is the economy,” said task force member Kelly Bennett, vice president of Sterling Planet and chair of the New York State branch of the nonprofit Apollo Alliance.

The task force also recommends changing the law to allow and encourage New York companies to produce their own renewable energy at their own locations and deliver excess power back to the energy grid, a process known as net metering.

Task force member Roger Kelley, chief executive of the New York Power Authority, said, “New York State now has a comprehensive blueprint for expanding its use of renewable energy and alternative fuels for combating global warming, reducing dependence on foreign oil, and spurring job growth in new, clean energy industries.”

“The Power Authority’s Niagara and St. Lawrence hydroelectric projects provide a solid head start,” said Kelley. “We expect to add to this through continued investment in such clean technologies as solar power and fuel cells, along with the purchase of wind power, as New York becomes a beacon for sustainable green power.”

The task force report estimates that $1 billion in economic benefits will result over the next 20 years from the roughly $500 million that New York has so far committed in renewable energy funding through the Renewable Portfolio Standard – a 100 percent return on investment not counting economic spillover, multiplier effects, and environmental quality-of-life gains from renewable energy production.

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