NY’s Supercharged Climate Bill Decreases Carbon Output, Boosts Costs

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a measure for cutting greenhouse gases, requiring an 85% reduction from 1990 levels over the next three decades and a carbon-free electric system by 2040, making it one of — if not the— most ambitious climate bill in the nation.

While a benefit to the environment and individuals, according to New York magazine, energy costs will increase in pursuit of such goals. It reports that “New York gets around 60% of its electricity from carbon-free sources — primarily an energy mix of hydroelectric and nuclear power. To make up the difference, the state will invest in large-scale offshore wind farms and rooftop solar projects. More challenging than the electric grid is the heat for homes and commercial buildings, which generally burn natural gas or oil, and take up around a quarter of the state’s emissions. In New York City, for example, an April law requiring skyscrapers to retrofit to meet new energy standards is expected to cost building owners over $4 billion.”

The measure also requires 35% of future clean energy and energy efficiency spending to “benefit” environmental justice communities, rather than a 40% mandate for direct investment in those areas.

In addition to the potential for increased energy costs, the bill comes with other drawbacks. According to Politico, the state faces a host of challenges in achieving the bill’s goals, “including issues with siting large onshore wind installations and solar projects and transmitting those resources from upstate to downstate load centers around New York City.”

California, New Mexico, Colorado and Hawaii have also passed legislation to reduce carbon emissions and rely more heavily on renewable energy.

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