The fund aims to address climate change, strengthen resiliency in the face of extreme weather and lower energy bills for New Yorkers starting this year. Additionally, the Governor believes the fund will attract and leverage third-party capital to support his ambitious Clean Energy Standard to meet 50 percent of electricity needs with renewable resources by 2030.
"New York is a national leader in combating climate change and growing the clean energy economy – and today we are taking the next big step forward," Governor Cuomo said."This unparalleled $5 billion investment will leverage more than $29 billion in private sector funding and open the door to new clean energy opportunities for years to come. We are raising the bar when it comes to increasing the use of renewable energy and reducing harmful carbon emissions, and I am proud that the Empire State is continuing to set the example for the future."
The $5 billion Clean Energy Fund, to be administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), builds on the progress the state is already making in developing a robust clean tech sector, according to the Governor. The fund is projected to result in more than $39 billion in customer bill savings over the next 10 years through innovative projects and private-public partnerships focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, making energy more affordable through energy efficiency and renewable energy, and mobilizing private-sector capital.
In addition to the $39 billion in overall customer savings, as a result of this Public Service Commission action, consumers and businesses are expected to see lower costs of $1.5 billion over the next 10 years, including an immediate reduction of $91 million from 2016 electric and gas costs compared to 2015.
New York State Chairman of Energy and Finance Richard Kauffman said, "The Clean Energy Fund will achieve greater customer savings and stimulate more demand for -- and private investment in -- renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, furthering the Governor's Reforming the Energy Vision strategy. By acting today and not tomorrow, we ensure our grid will be modernized and strengthened as we also lower New Yorker's electricity rates by implementing the most cost-effective solutions to meet our challenges."
The Commission has approved a public process to adopt a Clean Energy Standard that will also include a separate support mechanism for upstate nuclear power plants. The commission believes that, since nuclear facilities do not produce greenhouse gas emissions, they will help the State transition to a future under the Clean Energy Standard without losing ground on emission reductions statewide.
The Commission also took other steps to advance Governor Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision Strategy, or REV, by directing major electric and gas utilities to develop new, cutting-edge energy efficiency programs, on both a regional and statewide basis. It also established a benefit-cost analysis framework for evaluating new energy proposals, such as smaller, cleaner power plants, to determine whether they meet the energy- and cost-saving goals of REV.
The Clean Energy Fund supports the environmental goals of both REV and the Clean Energy Standard by reducing an estimated 133 million tons of carbon emissions (the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the road). Energy efficiency and other priority initiatives of the fund are also expected to save 10.6 million MWh of electricity and 13.4 million MMBtu of fuel consumption overall.
New York State Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman said, "Under the Clean Energy Fund, every dollar of clean energy spending will achieve greater savings and enhance private investment, spurring innovation and new technologies that will bring more choices and value to New York consumers. We will build on the success of previous energy-development programs in a way that meets evolving customer and market needs and transition away from approaches that rely almost exclusively on ratepayer subsidies, which is unsustainable if we are to meet our ambitious goals in the long-run."
The Commission also allocated $150 million for the development of new Large Scale Renewables power projects in 2016. As the Commission develops a Clean Energy Standard, it will create new incentives for large scale renewables and a new mechanism to prevent the premature retirement of safe, upstate nuclear power plants during this transition.