New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has commissioned the Empire State Line, a $180 million power transmission line to increase transmission capacity and integrate more renewable energy into the state’s electric grid.
When the new line is completed, the state predicts 70% of New York’s electricity will come from renewable sources. It comes one week after the governor signed a package of legislation aimed at increasing climate-change awareness in construction.
Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, thinks one bill in particular will be vital to the state meeting its carbon-neutral goal.
“The Building Code Council, which is a little-known state organization that establishes the building codes that apply for the whole state, is now allowed to consider climate change and greenhouse gas emissions as they’re developing the building code,” Reynolds explained. “They can also consider the entire life of the measures.”
Another new law allows utilities to test and own geothermal systems in some communities. The building code bill saw some opposition, including from The Business Council of New York State. The group argued it is too broad in allowing the state to regulate the energy efficiency of products used in construction.
The new state laws come shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the case West Virginia v. EPA, limiting the federal agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.
While Reynolds saw it as a setback to President Joe Biden’s climate agenda, she feels New York State has already insulated itself from this ruling’s effects.
“We already have our own air regulation. We have our own climate law. We have a very comprehensive climate plan that’s still in draft form,” Reynolds outlined. “New York is going to keep marching on towards climate action and be an environmental leader, like we have been since the beginning of the environmental movement.”
A third piece of legislation allows workers to be paid the prevailing wage as long as the renewable-energy system they’re installing generates more than one megawatt of power. The previous definition of a “covered” system was more than five megawatts.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.