In 2019, more electricity was generated from renewable sources in New York than in all but three states, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Electric Power Monthly. New York’s 39.4 million MWh of renewable electricity generation was more than any other state east of the Mississippi River and accounted for 30% of the state’s total electricity generation in 2019.
Hydroelectricity is the primary source of renewable generation in New York. Nearly 31 million MWh of hydroelectric power was generated in New York in 2019, which accounted for 78% of the state’s renewable electricity generation and 23% of the state’s total electricity generation. The 2.4-GW Robert Moses Niagara hydroelectric plant, located downstream from Niagara Falls, is the second-largest conventional hydroelectric power plant in the country in terms of electric generating capacity, behind only Washington’s Grand Coulee.
The three states that generated more electricity from renewables were California, Texas and Washington. The vast majority of generation in Washington came from hydropower, which also contributed a significant portion of California’s total generation.
Wind has been the second-largest source of renewable electricity in New York, with 4.5 million MWh generated in 2019. Wind generation in New York during 2019 accounted for 11% of renewable generation and 3% of total electricity generation. At the end of 2019, New York had 1,132 wind turbines at 27 power plants, according to EIA’s Annual Electric Generator Inventory.
Solar energy generated nearly 2.4 million MWh of electricity in New York during 2019. Small-scale solar installations, such as those found on residential and commercial rooftops, accounted for nearly 80% of the state’s solar electricity generation. Biomass, at 1.9 million MWh, accounted for the remainder of New York’s renewable electricity generation in 2019.
In the U.S., the sources of electricity generation have been shifting from coal to natural gas and renewables since the mid-2000s. Changes in New York’s electricity generating mix have contributed to this trend. Coal’s share of New York’s electricity generation fell from 14% in 2005 to less than 1% in 2019, and natural gas-fired electricity grew from 22% to 36%.
Electricity generation from renewable energy technologies collectively grew from 19% to 29% in the same period. New York adopted a renewable portfolio standard in 2004 and the Clean Energy Standard (CES) in 2015. The CES requires New York to generate 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 and attain economy-wide net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.