Getting NYC to 80×50: Energy

Articles | July 28, 2017

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Part four of NYLCV’s series of forums on “Getting to 80 x 50” focused on energy use and transmission within New York City, and how we can achieve the Mayor’s goal for 50% of the city’s energy to come from renewable resources by 2030. We invited panelists to join us from a range of different perspectives, companies, and professional backgrounds to help us address some of the main questions stakeholders and residents have about making NYC’s energy sector more efficient and sustainable.

Members of the first panel included top representatives from Con Edison and National Grid, government officials from the energy sector, and the President and CEO of the New York Independent System Operator. These experts tackled the challenging question of “How do we get renewable energy to consumers? What technological and other challenges does the City face in achieving the energy goals in the 80 x 50 Roadmap?” When it came to trying to change the grid, panelists agreed that transmission was one of the major challenges. There is clean energy in upstate New York and at Niagra falls that we are not tapping to the full potential, and getting transmission projects under way can take up to 10-12 years. It is therefore critical to speed up the cycle for new transmission systems, and to access the energy trapped upstate. Another hurdle to accessing this energy is the very detailed planning process and red tape that includes respecting the rights of neighbors and property owners. Chief Management Officer for the for the City of New York, Anthony Fiore, also pointed out that the existing transmission we have all comes through a very narrow corridor, making it all too easy for disruptions caused by natural disasters. As we consider how to get energy to consumers, increasing reliability/resiliency should be towards the front of the agenda. Another challenge is the cost of adjustment — to access cleaner, more reliable energy that both cleans up the environment and improves public health, the consumer has to pay.  Despite these challenges, the panelists wrapped up on positive notes, agreeing that as new cutting-edge technology becomes available, renewables will be more easily accessible and less intermittent.

The second panel included representatives from Statoil, the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, the National Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund. Drawing on their expertise, they shed light on how we can generate more renewable energy, and lower our overall energy consumption in the process with improved efficiency.  Everyone agreed that we need an increase in wind and solar, and innovative planning such as community solar or out-of-state access to renewables allows us to take a different approach to the problem. Panelists entreated us to look at the 80×50 plan as integrated challenge instead of goals standing on their own. Energy, waste, buildings, and transportation are interdependent, and efficiency in each area cuts back on energy consumption.

New York City is in a good position to tackle these issues because levels of awareness are high and citizens are getting involved.  Scott Weiner, from the NYS Department of Public Service encouraged the crowd to “Engage your friends. Take five friends and talk to them, and ask them to engage and do one or two things to change their behaviors.”

You can watch videos from the event here, and learn more about the issues by reading the background paper for this event, available here.

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