It’s been a relatively quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic so far this year, but Mother Nature walloped Puerto Rico with a Category 1 hurricane that caused island-wide blackouts on Sunday. As in 2017, organizations are working to send solar equipment and technical expertise (and Solar One is participating in those efforts; see details below), there are things that individuals can do to help.
The four red and white smokestacks that loom over the western edge of Queens are a familiar sight to New Yorkers, but a plan to convert the Ravenswood Generating station to 100% renewables could mean that their days of spewing smoke are coming to an end.
Ravenswood currently supplies about 20% of NYC’s electricity by burning natural gas and oil, running four large generator, the largest of which is nicknamed Big Allis. As Solar One got to see on a field trip there many years ago, the amount of fuel required to keep the turbines spinning at Ravenswood is awe-inspriing…and terrifying. It also contributes to some of the worst air quality in town; child asthma rates in the three NYCHA housing developments that surround the plant are significantly higher than in the rest of Queens.
Its emissions are also at odds with New York’s ambitious climate goals, which is why the current owner, Rise, Light and Power, is working on a plan to convert to zero-emissions, 100% renewable generation.
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.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new framework for New York State to increase its distributed solar capacity to 10 gigawatts by 2030- enough to power 700,000 homes. NYSERDA and the Public Service Commission have created a new roadmap to show how these numbers can be achieved, making the NY-Sun Initiative one of the largest and most inclusive programs of its kind in the US.
“The existential fight against climate change demands historic investments in renewable energy to bring us closer to a brighter, greener future,” Governor Hochul said. “This roadmap to expand the NY-Sun initiative into a nation-leading blueprint for the development of distributed solar meets the moment to supercharge our economy and advance our climate goals.”
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.
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.