New York lawmakers introduce bill to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

By Gavin Bade, Krysti Shallenberger | May 26, 2016

Dive Brief:

  • A dozen New York lawmakers have introduced a bill aimed at codifying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) climate change goals, including a 100% reduction in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050.
  • The bill would require electric utilities in the state to source 27% of their generation capacity from renweables in 2017, 30% from renewables by 2020, 40% by 2025, and 50% by 2030. Environmental advocates have interpreted the greenhouse gas goal as a de facto mandate for 100% renewables.
  • Under the bill, the state would have to cut GHG emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 80% by 2045 on the way to a complete phase-out by 2050.

​Dive Insight:

New York regulators have long been leaders in the utility transformation, pushing new revenue and business models for power companies through the Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding.

Now, lawmakers on the state’s Climate Change Work Group are joining the push to remake the power sector, proposing a sweeping greenhouse gas reduction bill that would touch virtually every corner of the economy. 

The bill stems from proposals in Gov. Cuomo’s New York State Energy Plan, a non-binding roadmap released in June to guide the state toward making deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and deploying more renewables and distributed energy resources. 

The bill would order the DEC to first determine the 1990 levels of greenhouse gas pollution in the state and then gradually ratchet pollution down until 100% reduction is reached. 

The bill also calls on utilities to source 50% of their generation capacity from renewable sources by 2030, the same requirement that exists in California. And while it does not include a 100% RPS, some environmental advocates see the greenhouse gas goals as a virtual mandate anyway.

“The bill establishes that 100% of New York’s energy will come from clean, renewable sources by 2050, and it provides annualized benchmarks to ensure we don’t just hope to meet them, but must meet them,” Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York said in astatement.

Economy-wide emissions in New York for 1990 have yet to be established, but a 2014 state report reveals that GHG pollution from the power sector was higher in that year than it is today. That means, if the bill were to pass, the electricity sector would be ordered to completely eliminate GHG emissions by midcentury.

Greenhouse gas emissions from power supply and delivery