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Category Archives:

Legislation

Environmental Bond Act Passes in New York on Election Day

Should New York issue $4.2 billion in new bonds to pay for projects related to greenhouse gas emissions, flood risk, clean water, land conservation, and other climate-related matters? That is one of the things that New Yorkers were asked to decide in this year’s elections.

The “Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act” has already passed in the legislature, and last year New York voters approved a new statewide referendum guaranteeing a constitutional right to clean air and water, and a healthy environment.

This week, New Yorkers approved the Bond Act with a clear majority voting “yes” on Proposition 1.

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States Are Using Green Amendments for Climate Protection

At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal Environmental Protection Agency did not have the authority to mandate emissions from power plants in West Virginia v. EPA. This decision has been widely seen as a blow to the country’s ability to meet its climate goals, which would also give other countries an excuse not to meet their own.

But now some states are responding by introducing climate amendments to their constitutions, enshrining the right to a clean and healthy environment in their own Bills of Rights.

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The Inflation Reduction Act Is a Ray of Hope

The U.S. Senate’s passage this past Sunday of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is the single most important act by the U.S. Government ever to combat climate change. While the total package is $740 billion, approximately $375 billion will go to efforts to fight climate change, and experts believe it will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 2005 emission levels by 2030.

We at Solar One applaud our Senator, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Congress, and President Biden for this historic legislation; this truly represents a down payment on a livable planet that we will leave to our children and grandchildren. We also applaud the activists, advocates and policy staff who worked tirelessly, both in the streets and behind the scenes, to bring us this victory, and our City and State leaders who helped create the blueprint for the best ideas that were included in the IRA.

There is so much work still to be done and not much time. We will continue to do our part to deploy renewable energy to every corner of every community in New York City through our Here Comes Solar program. We will help train the green workforce necessary to rise to this existential challenge through our stellar and ever growing Green Workforce program. And we will educate the next generation to become the climate leaders and environmental stewards through our award-winning Green Design Lab K-12 program. Our Solar One program participants gain the skills, knowledge, and vision to take action against the impacts of climate change. It’s these passionate allies we will rely on to save the Earth.

We could not be prouder to help fight the good fight and we are grateful for this historic investment. Today the future is looking brighter.

The End Is Near for Gas Power in New Buildings in NYC

Ravenswood PlantIn December, NYC became the largest city in the country to agree to phase out the use of fossil fuels in all new buildings. The New York City Council has passed a bill prohibiting natural gas hookups in new buildings, beginning next year.

NYC’s largest source of carbon emissions is from buildings- at 27%, more than double the amount that building emissions account for in other places (13% in the US as a whole), more than transportation, waste or any other category.

Appliances that run on gas — stoves, furnaces, boilers, and water heaters — also come at another cost. When natural gas combusts indoors, a mix of particulate matter, nitrogen and sulfur oxides, and volatile organic compounds is released — air pollutants that have harmful effects on respiratory and cardiovascular health. Gas-fueled appliances are also frequent emitters of methane, a more impactful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

With the new bill, New Yorkers can expect to see some changes by the end of 2023, when developers of new buildings under seven stories won’t be allowed to put in natural gas-powered stoves, boilers, or water heaters. Instead, these buildings will use electricity, relying on a mix of technologies like heat pumps and induction stoves to replace gas and oil.

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A Tale of Two Grids & the Plan to Connect Them

New York’s climate goals are some of the most ambitious in the nation: by law, the state needs to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and shift to a completely clean, emissions-free electricity economy by 2050, and get to 70% renewable generation by 2030. And to reach that goal, state agencies and private companies have been ramping up renewable energy sources like wind and solar farms. Solar One has been involved in this change almost since its inception, playing a role in getting New York’s first net metering law passed, which paved the way for a renewable revolution, and our Here Comes Solar, Green Design Lab and Workforce Training programs have all  been playing roles in this historic transition ever since, as have our staff who work on NYSERDA’s Clean Energy Communities program at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.

Sounds pretty promising, doesn’t it? However, there’s a catch. Most of the renewable generation being developed in New York is located upstate, where space is plentiful and land is relatively cheap. But the need for power is greatest in NYC, and the transmission lines tasked with moving the power down to us just can’t handle that many electrons.

In September, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced two huge transmission-line projects to help bridge that divide, a step that environmental advocates hope is a sign that she is accelerating the state’s efforts to address climate change and environmental inequities.

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More Action Announced Toward Climate Goals in the Wake of Climate Week NYC

As Climate Week NYC came to a close two weeks ago, Governor Hochul announced some major developments in plans to advance New York State’s ambitious climate goals for the coming decades.

First, the Governor announced completion of a major $460 million modernization and life extension effort at the New York Power Authority’s Lewiston Pump Generating Plant and the digitization of the first of 13 hydropower turbines at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. The digitization is the first major milestone of Next Generation Niagara, a $1.1 billion, 15-year modernization and digitization program to significantly extend the operating life of the Niagara Power Project. Together, these projects represent nearly $1.6 billion of clean energy infrastructure investments at the Niagara Power Project that will help advance New York State’s aggressive clean energy goal to transition to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040.

At the end of Climate Week, the Governor also announced the latest round of communities to achieve certification as part of New York State’s Climate Smart Communities program, which supports local efforts to meet the economic, social, and environmental challenges posed by climate change. By taking meaningful steps to mitigate and adapt to climate change, 11 local governments met the criteria to be recognized as leaders for the first time.

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