E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


Pataki backs wind and solar power

(Thursday, Jan. 9, 2003 – CropChoice news) – Kirk Johnson, AP: In a brief, low-key passage in his annual address to the Legislature, Gov. George E. Pataki yesterday electrified green-energy supporters and environmentalists who had hoped without much hope for years that New York would become a national leader in sustainable nonpolluting energy.

Mr. Pataki said he would direct that, within the next decade, 25 percent of the state's electricity supply come from sources like solar and wind power.

Advertisement Although New York already produces more renewable energy than many states — around 17 percent of its electricity — mostly from hydroelectric power, achieving an additional 8 percent in a state as big as New York would still be a significant step, energy experts said.

A spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association, David R. Wooley, said the order could mean construction of perhaps 4,000 megawatts of alternative power across the state and, more important, financing for it, since suppliers like Con Ed will be required to buy the energy produced.

About 400 to 500 megawatts of wind power are now in the approval process, Mr. Wooley said, but the projects have mostly gone nowhere because lenders cannot be certain that anyone will buy that power. Mr. Pataki's announcement immediately changes the prospects for those projects, he said, by guaranteeing a market.

Thirteen states already have renewable energy goals, called portfolio standards, but environmentalists said that New York's would be among the most aggressive of all. New Jersey has pledged to get 6.5 percent of its electricity from green sources by 2012, and Texas is committed to 2.2 percent by 2009.

Mr. Pataki's order also affects only energy bought on the statewide wholesale market, so it will not be felt by individual electricity customers who will continue to pay their bills as before.

"It almost seemed like the golden fleece that we were striving for but could never achieve, and to have the governor come out and announce that he would have the Public Service Commission implement a portfolio standard is just an incredible piece of good news," said John L. Stouffer, legislative director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "It means that there will be new sources of renewable energy sited in New York."

Mr. Pataki also said in his speech that he wants New York to adopt standards for automobiles to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the biggest of the so-called greenhouse gases blamed by many scientists for contributing to climate change. California has said it will develop standards for cars sold in that state for the 2009 model year, and environmentalists said that if the California plan goes forward on schedule and New York does follow suit, the impact would be significant.

"But it's a promise that doesn't come due for some time," said Anne Reynolds, the air and energy project director at Environmental Advocates, a conservation advocacy group based in Albany. "The renewable energy directive, though, will have an immediate benefit."