New York Republicans Push for Wind, Solar Fuel Alternatives


New York Republicans are urging the state to tap into renewable natural gas, green hydrogen and other alternative fuel sources as part of long-term plans to wean the state off fossil-burning energy sources. 

In a letter to members of the New York State Public Service Commission, the Senate's GOP minority argue the Climate Leadership and Community Preservation Act, a state law that requires New York to reduce emissions from the electric grid to net zero by 2040, means the state needs to diversify its clean energy mix beyond just wind and solar power. 

"Hydrogen, nuclear, renewable, natural gas, bio energy and sewer heat recovery provide more reliable sources of energy and wind and solar as they would not be intermittent," Senate Minority Leader Rob Orrt and other lawmakers wrote. "To be clear, New York State cannot meet the mandates in the CLCPA solely by focusing on wind and solar energy generation." 

Those energy sources also require less land development than wind and solar farms, which the GOP lawmakers wrote would "reduce hostility between locals and energy companies and less destruction of natural habitats around the state." 

The lawmakers point to data from the New York Independent System Operator, which manages the state's electrical grid, projecting New York City and other regions could face a power deficiency in coming years if capacity isn't increased.

The debate mirrors a national discussion on the shift to clean energy, with large-scale utilities and industry groups calling on states and the federal government to pursue new technologies to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Several states seek to expand reliance on renewable natural gas by incentivizing utilities to expand their reliance on the fuel source.

Federal programs for renewable fuels are providing incentives for projects to convert biogas into renewable natural gas. Congress created the Renewable Fuels Standard program in 2007 to expand the nation’s use of renewable fuels while reducing reliance on imported oil.

In June, New York's largest utility, National Grid, announced it's seeking to eliminate fossil fuels from its gas networks in New York and Massachusetts by 2050, replacing them with renewable natural gas and green hydrogen.

But environmental groups and other critics say those alternative energy sources can be more expensive to produce than traditional fossil-produced gas and less reliable than wind or solar. They argue the availability of RNG and hydrogen is also limited compared to current natural gas demand and say their role in addressing climate change would be negligible.

But Ortt and other Republicans say the state needs to consider advancements in renewable energy to meet climate change goals and modernize the state's electrical grid. 

“New York has made great strides over the past decades in reducing its carbon footprint but we have done so in a smart and responsible manner," Ortt said. "We can achieve a clean energy future, but we must do so taking into account the reliability needs of the power grid and the health and safety of all New Yorkers."

We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.

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