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NY Legislature passes climate, energy bills before session ends

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

New York State’s legislative session has ended with climate bills a top priority.

Legislation such as the Climate Change Superfund Act awaits Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature. Other bills such as the Renewable Action Through Project Interconnection and Deployment Act passed with the budget. The bill speeds up clean-energy project permitting and power grid interconnection.

Marguerite Wells, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, said speeding up the process benefits the state.

“Many of the renewable-energy projects that have been proposed have been stalled because of lack of capacity on the transmission lines near them to actually put the electricity on the grid so that New Yorkers can access it,” Wells explained. “There’s no sense in building a project that can’t actually deliver to people.”

This after the state’s grid operator, New York Independent System Operator, received a C-minus on an interconnection report card. Its lowest scores were for providing useful interconnection alternatives and interconnection process results.

Wells noted enacting the measure builds off the Build Public Renewables Act passed in the 2023 state budget.

Other barriers such as the numerous processes projects undergo before connecting to the grid can hold them back. A New York State Comptroller report found application delays are holding up renewable-energy projects siting permits for more than three years.

Despite the challenges, Wells is confident New York can achieve its 2030 climate goals.

“There’s no shortage of projects being brought forward that will help meet that goal,” Wells pointed out. “The trick now is just, I don’t think there’s any new laws needed or major changes to the structure that are necessary. I think it’s streamlining what we’ve got and hitting a rhythm to get these projects built.”

One foreseeable challenge is assembling enough skilled laborers to build the projects. Trade union leaders in the state are eager to work on them with a labor force ready to do so. A nationwide 2022 report showed not speeding up transmission increases greenhouse gas emissions by 800 million tons annually.