Measure Reduces Pollution by Phasing Out Dirtiest Power Plants that Operate on Peak Electricity Days
Bolsters New York's Transition to Renewable Energy and Energy Storage
Supports Nation-Leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and Initiatives to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions 40 Percent by 2030
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation adopted final regulations to improve air quality and protect public health with new, stringent requirements on peak-use power plants. The measure substantially reduces emissions from "peaking" power plants that operate on the hottest days with the most air pollution. These dirty, inefficient plants are also major sources of carbon pollution. Transitioning away from these peak-use power plants is an important component of achieving Governor Cuomo's nation-leading Green New Deal. These regulations will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, and shift to 100 percent clean electricity by 2040.
"While the Trump Administration continues its assault on protections that keep communities safe from harmful emissions, New York is once again taking aggressive action to protect public health and combat climate change," Governor Cuomo said. "These restrictions on dirty and inefficient power plants will improve air quality in overburdened communities and spur investments in the clean energy economy."
The regulation establishes lower thresholds for emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which contribute to harmful levels of ozone, or smog, on hot summer days. Dozens of simple cycle and regenerative combustion turbines at power plants across the state—many approaching 50 years old and operating infrequently—emit NOx at levels that are at least 30 times more than emissions from newer turbines. However, when the peak-use power plant turbines are operating, collectively they can account for more than a third of New York's daily power plant NOx emissions while producing less electricity for consumers than cleaner sources. In addition, these dirty power plants are often located in proximity to Environmental Justice areas and other communities historically overburdened by environmental pollution and under-served by clean energy solutions.
To preserve a reliable electricity grid, the regulation phases in the control requirements from 2023 to 2025, allowing time for a transition to cleaner sources of electricity. It also provides the power plant owners the option to meet the new, stringent standards in part through the installation of emission-free renewable energy or energy storage. Storage can reduce the operation of these intermittently used power sources by dispatching energy when and where it is most needed and reducing NOx emissions when air quality could be compromised.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Governor Cuomo's commitment to fighting climate change and creating healthier communities is evident in the nation-leading actions that are already improving air quality, strengthening resiliency, and reducing greenhouse gases. With these regulations, New Yorkers will breathe easier knowing that some of the oldest and dirtiest power plants are transitioning to cleaner technologies."
The regulation is being published in the State Register on December 31, 2019, and is available here.
New York's Nation-Leading Renewable Energy Initiatives
Governor Cuomo is implementing the most aggressive climate change program in the nation and putting the state on a path to being entirely carbon-neutral across all sectors of the economy, including power generation, transportation, buildings, industry and agriculture. The Governor's program also establishes a goal to achieve a zero-carbon emissions electricity sector by 2040, faster than any state in the nation. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), signed earlier this year, mandates several of the Governor's ambitious Green New Deal clean energy targets: installing nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035; six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025 and three gigawatts of energy storage by 2030. The CLCPA also calls for an orderly and just transition to clean energy, creating jobs while spurring a green economy. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including a $2.9 billion investment in 46 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector and 1,700 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2012. The CLCPA also directs New York State's agencies and authorities to work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, and to work toward a goal of investing 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency resources to benefit disadvantaged communities.