This month’s cover story focuses on New York’s effort to increase its renewable portfolio standard to 50% renewables by 2030. The article, written by Anne Reynolds, executive director at the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, nicely lays out New York’s challenges if it is to meet the ambitious renewables mandate.
On the surface, it all appears positive. A top wind state is redoubling its efforts to develop more electricity emanating from terrestrial-based wind, as well as offshore wind. However, because New York is the subject, any enthusiasm generated by the announcement must be tamped down.
Why? Well, any wind developer will tell you that developing in New York is not for the faint of heart. For starters, its environmental reviews are the most comprehensive and stringent anywhere this side of California. Then, in 2011, the state brought back Article X, which was supposed to create a one-stop shop for permitting and shorten the length of time for projects to be signed off. Yet, here we are, six years later, and there has only been one wind project (Everpower Wind Holdings’ Cassadaga Wind) that has completed a full application. That’s right – the project still needs formal approval.
Further complicating matters is the New York Independent System Operator’s (NYISO) class year process, a system impact study that determines the network upgrades needed under the generator’s interconnection agreement. But instead of simplifying the process, the NYISO may have made the process harder, as indicated by a dizzying 35-step process found on its website.
As Reynolds writes, “There are some signs that the market is responding to Gov. Cuomo’s 50 percent renewable pledge. The New York Independent System Operator queue now shows a total of 36 wind proposals (totaling more than 4.9 GW) and 40 solar projects (totaling 920 MW).”
That’s good news, right? Perhaps, but what evidence has New York provided to make me believe that it has fixed all of its issues? Wind developers are still grappling with the state’s thorny permitting and interconnection regimes.
In short, although the state’s efforts are laudable, I’m not buying into it.
Wind developers need New York’s actions to keep pace with the rhetoric. Despite its best intentions to keep pace with the likes of California, New York wind development will always remain a slog.