Friday, October 01, 2004

Report from Albany: Renewable Energy Conference Goers Discuss the Impact of New York's new 25% RPS

The Albany Times Union published an article yesterday on this week's renewable energy conference in Saratoga Springs, which was hosted by the Independent Power Producers of New York, Inc.. Conference topics included discussion on procuring renewable energy resources in NY, and on whether the state should adopt a basic service generation process. However, with the New York Public Service Commission's (PSC) recent decision to increase the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 25%, much of the buzz around the conference focused on the impacts of that decision.

The PSC decision to increase the RPS to 25% will help reduce reliance on imported oil, diversify the state's energy portfolio, decrease environmental impacts associated with fossil fuel-fired electricity generation, and generate jobs in the State. But as the Time Union article points out, many details of the new plan remain to be worked out, and conference goers highlighted some of the lingering concerns. According to the article, the "big questions" facing the state include "the potential for transmission jams, the problem of connecting new generators to the power grid, and reliability concerns when electricity depends on the weather."

While these questions present some challenges they are certainly not insurmountable - as Garry Brown, vice president of strategic development for the New York Independent System Operator in Guilderland, which runs the state's transmission grid and wholesale power markets noted: "It's something new, it's something different, and it's something we need to learn more about as we move along with this (renewables) process." According to the article, The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has a team in place that will start as early as next to work out the details for implementing the plan.

New York's 25% standard is currently one of the highest in the nation. According to the Federal Government Accountability Office's (GAO) recent report on the wind industry, of the 17 States with RPS's in place, only Maine requires a higher level of renewable energy (30%), with other states ranging from 20% (California) to 1.1% (Arizona).

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