NEW YORK CITY -- Curbing global warming emissions and building the clean energy economy are critical to New York State’s future and the health and well-being of all New Yorkers. In this week’s State of the State event, Governor Cuomo announced some significant new clean energy and climate initiatives.
In case you didn’t have time in listen in, or to pore through the 219-page State of the State report that the Governor’s office released after the speech, or check out the various other energy tomes that the State has issued in the last week, here’s a road map to some of the highlights.
For starters, the State of the State report correctly noted some of the State’s major and impressive clean energy accomplishments over the last year, including:
Moving forward, the State of the State unveiled a number of new clean energy and climate resiliency initiatives for 2014, including the following.
First, the Governor announced a unique and interesting new program called NYPrize, which is a $40 million competition to help build community microgrids for neighborhoods of 40,000 people. As the report explains, these new energy systems will combine local clean power sources with microgrids — standalone energy systems that can operate as an “energy island” in the event of a power outage — that will enable communities to maintain access to electricity and heat. This could be an important community climate resiliency strategy, both showcasing clean distributed energy technologies and protecting vulnerable residents from future superstorms.
Second, the Governor announced a great new school and community “solarizing” program called Community Solar NY, which, as my colleague Nathanael Greene reports, will help New York’s 5,000 public schools finance and install solar power systems on their roofs, reducing energy costs and creating a healthier environment. Led by the New York Power Authority and the New York Energy Research & Development Authority, this initiative will also use solar schools as demonstration hubs to “solarize” entire neighborhoods, rallying the entire community around the benefits of solar, with possible financial reward to solar schools based on how many local residents are inspired to go solar.
Finally, the State of the State included a whole series of new initiatives aimed at addressing “the new reality” of climate change. Pointing out the “new normal” of more frequent and severe extreme weather events — with three major storms impacting New York State within just eighteen months, the Governor’s plan includes $17 billion in proposed projects to strengthen New York’s communities against extreme weather, including $1.4 billion for much needed projects to harden and improve electric power systems, upgrade protections for waste water treatment plants and systems, $1.9 billion for coastal protection projects and further support for natural infrastructure protections such as wetlands and beach restoration. My colleague Eric Goldstein has the details here.
As always, announcements are only the first step and implementation is where the rubber hits the road. The details will matter and follow-through is essential, and there’s much more work on clean energy progress in New York. But today’s State of the State holds great promise for a stronger, healthier New York.
This article was originally published on NRDC Switchboard and was republished with permission.
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