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NYPA Approves Clean Energy Roadmap for Next Decade

Dec. 10, 2020
VISION2030 focuses on five strategic priorities to achieve the clean energy goals of NYPA customers and the state.

The New York Power Authority's (NYPA's) board of trustees recently approved a new strategic plan, VISION2030, which provides a roadmap for transforming the state's energy infrastructure to a clean, reliable, resilient, and affordable system over the next decade. VISION2030 highlights the NYPA's commitment to partnering with statewide customers to ensure a cost-effective transition to clean energy while simultaneously moving the state ahead in meeting Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's climate leadership targets under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).

"With the approval of VISION2030, we are proud to again lead by example to meet the energy demands and challenges of the next decade," said NYPA Chairman John R. Koelmel. "While continuing to provide affordable, reliable, and clean electricity, we will increasingly partner with our customers to transform the way they are using energy and move aggressively toward the governor's climate leadership targets. That will ensure we even more effectively deploy our assets and expertise to power New York's economy, and further stimulate and enable job creation and capital investment around the state."

Under Cuomo's leadership, the state has set timetables for decarbonizing its electricity system including moving toward 70% renewables by 2030, 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040, and a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. VISION2030 includes a path to decarbonization by transitioning the NYPA's natural gas plants to low- or zero-carbon emission technologies and committing to supplying its customers with carbon-free electricity by 2035, five years ahead of the goal of carbon-free electricity by 2040. The roadmap further details the NYPA's plans to deploy a vast, improved transmission network across the state to enable new, additional renewable energy to come onto the electric grid, and to preserve the steadfast role of clean hydropower as the state's renewable energy base.

"We have fulfilled the original ambitions of our VISION2020 and created a stronger and more agile organization," said NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones. "Climate change continues to greatly influence our work and we will aggressively pursue decarbonization while at the same time enhancing the state's ability to have a thriving economy — thus creating a blueprint for others to follow."

VISION2030 focuses on five strategic priorities to achieve the clean energy goals of NYPA customers and the state. They include the NYPA's intention to:

  • Partner with customers to deliver clean and affordable energy solutions.
  • Pioneer the path to decarbonization while ensuring reliability, resilience, and affordability of the state's electric grid.
  • Facilitate the rapid development of transmission assets.
  • Preserve the value of hydroelectric generation and adaptively reimagine the New York State canal system.

These strategic priorities will be supported by the NYPA's recently approved four-year financial plan, which includes five foundational pillars: becoming the first end-to-end digital utility; achieving best-in-class environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance and reporting; establishing a leadership role in diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities; bolstering enterprise resilience; and continuing progress with process excellence, workforce planning, and knowledge management.

Partnering with customers

The NYPA will partner with its customers and the state to meet their individual energy goals in alignment with the CLCPA by providing clean and affordable energy, along with innovative, integrated customer solutions. The NYPA will help its customers decarbonize by working with them to realize climate leadership projects in energy efficiency, renewables generation, optimized electrification, and digitization. Through this transformation, a 70% renewable energy supply will be provided by 2030 in a cost-effective manner.

The NYPA will also enable 325 MW of distributed and customer-sited solar by 2025 and facilitate 450 MW of storage projects by 2030. In addition, to advance e-mobility across the state, the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is being accelerated through the installation of charging stations for EV drivers, including chargers built for transit agencies to electrify buses, and through EVolve NY, the NYPA's public fast charging network.

Path to decarbonization

To lead the transition from natural gas to even cleaner electricity, the NYPA will be a first mover in developing and demonstrating new low-to-zero carbon technologies and short- and long-duration battery storage. The NYPA will evaluate the economic performance of its gas fleet and pursue a collaborative approach with policy makers, community members, and the private sector as it advocates for market rules and policies and aims to achieve zero-carbon emissions by 2035, ahead of the governor's 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040 goal. The path to decarbonization also includes the NYPA committing to supplying its customers with carbon-free electricity by 2035.

The NYPA recently signed an agreement with environmental justice groups to assess how its natural gas-fired 'peaker' plants, six in New York City and one on Long Island, can be transitioned to use clean energy technologies while continuing to meet the electricity reliability and resiliency requirements of New York City. Potential siting of battery storage and hydrogen blending at the plants is under consideration.

Growing transmission to connect renewables

As part of VISION2030, the NYPA aims to be the leading transmission developer, owner, and operator for New York State. Building new transmission infrastructure to move distant renewable energy resources is critical to the integration of renewables, such as land-based and offshore wind and solar, into the bulk power system and achieving the goal of 70% renewable electricity by 2030.

Three major projects to help the state meet its changing transmission needs are currently underway:

  • Replacement of the 86-mile-long Moses-Adirondack transmission lines that run from Massena to Croghan in the North Country. The US$484 million SmartPath project will allow for greater transmission of energy from renewable sources.
  • Upgrade of the Marcy to New Scotland transmission line with LS Power Grid New York. The Mohawk Valley to Capital Region transmission line will relieve bottlenecks in high-voltage transmission and increase access to renewable energy sources.
  • Commencement of the Northern New York transmission initiative, the first priority transmission project under the 2020 Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act. In addition to unbottling existing renewable energy in the region, the NYPA estimates the Northern New York project will result in cost savings, emissions reductions, and decreased transmission congestion.

Preserving hydropower

The NYPA will preserve and enhance the value of the NYPA's hydropower assets, which account for approximately 25% of New York State's electricity, as a continued core source of carbon-free power and as a source of flexibility and resilience, as the state's grid evolves. Retaining assets in good repair, actively advocating for policy and market rules recognizing hydro benefits to the grid, and evaluating alternative contracting or offtake arrangements will help optimize the benefit of hydropower for New Yorkers.

A 15-year, US$1.1 billion life extension and modernization program, first announced in July 2019, is currently underway to significantly extend the operating life of the NYPA's flagship Niagara Power Project, the largest source of clean electricity in New York State and one of the largest hydroelectric projects in the United States.

Reimagine the Canals

In VISION2030, the NYPA and the Canal Corp. reimagine the New York Canal System for the economic and recreational benefit of New Yorkers while driving operational efficiency. The NYPA will continue to reinvigorate the New York State Canal System primarily through the Reimagine the Canals initiative announced by Cuomo earlier this year. This initiative is designed to celebrate the history and legacy of one of the state's most iconic landmarks by increasing outdoor recreation, supporting responsible environmental stewardship, and developing new opportunities to better serve communities along the Canal corridor. Simultaneously, the NYPA and the Canal Corp. will work to ensure that these investments safeguard the Canal's role as a driver of economic growth for New York State.

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