In early August, the New York Public Service Commission approved the state’s ambitious Clean Energy Standard. The policy, spearheaded by Governor Andrew Cuomo, includes reviving aging nuclear plants to use as a greater source of carbon-free power. Here’s our breakdown of the Clean Energy Standard and the emphasis it places on nuclear energy.
To aid the fight against climate change, last year New York State made a commitment to generate half of its energy from renewables by the year 2030. The Clean Energy Standard is its plan for making this happen.
Although the Clean Energy Standard is mostly comprised of broad tactics for boosting renewables, with more specific logistics still to be ironed-out, it does present a solid roadmap for clean-energy production over the next 14 years.
Key components of the policy include:
- Requiring utility companies to reach a yearly Renewable Energy Credit target. These credits will be paid to renewable developers to fund new clean energy sources.
- Efforts to create a New York-certified clean electric product and give residents the ability to buy 100% clean power.
- The potential development of renewable heating and cooling technologies (e.g. geothermal heat pumps).
- Plans to develop offshore wind farms.
- Subsidising ailing nuclear power plants to ensure they continue producing carbon-free energy.
The role of nuclear
Approval of the Clean Energy Standard is considered a major win for the nuclear industry. The policy includes paying several power plants in upstate New York $965 million over two years in order to keep them afloat and ensure they continue to produce carbon-free power. Since power prices are currently lower than reactor operating costs, a number of plants will have likely shut down without the subsidies laid out in the newly approved policy.
The New York Public Service Commission estimates the revitalized reactors will produce $5 billion worth of economic and environmental benefits for the state in the first two years. Considering the $965 million spent on the project, this would be a net gain of nearly $4 billion.
Proponents of nuclear energy are hopeful that New York’s investment in nuclear power as a clean-energy solution will encourage other states to follow suit.
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Image by Nuclear Reglatory Commission via Flickr