By Gwendolyn Craig
In his series of four State of the State addresses this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo focused Wednesday on a green energy economy with mention of Adirondack-region projects.
He did not mention renewing a $3 billion environmental bond act. It’s not clear if he will in his final State of the State address today, which is said to be focused on the state’s infrastructure.
The governor did tout a number of green energy projects already underway across the state, and announced two dozen new ones including a 20-megawatt solar project in Washington County, a 90-megawatt solar project in Franklin County and a 1.6-megawatt hydro proposal in Franklin County. Across the state, green energy initiatives underway are expected to generate 12,400 megawatts of power, enough to run 6 million homes.
A closer look at The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s bid proposals website does not show any projects directly within the Blue Line.
Cuomo tied the green energy projects back to the COVID-19 pandemic to say the phasing out of fossil fuels is the new post-pandemic reality. He expects green energy initiatives to generate more than 50,000 jobs and create $29 billion in private investments statewide.
“Once in a lifetime the stars line up, the forces align and there is a chance for change, change that is meaningful and radical and positive,” Cuomo said. “New York should seize this moment.”
The governor focused on four components for his green energy plans including identifying clean energy projects; creating manufacturing capacity in New York and developing a steady flow of projects to sustain the facilities; building a transmission capacity for renewable energy; and educating a new workforce to meet the demand.
Cuomo also announced the opening of a competitive bidding process for the build of a green transmission grid. One of the goals is to connect Canada and upstate power to downstate, which Cuomo said will result in more than 1,000 jobs and $5 billion in public and private investment. An Adirondack Park Agency spokesperson said the transmission line is outside of the Adirondack Park.
Franklin County was also mentioned in the governor’s speech for housing a 20-megawatt battery storage project.
Terry Martino, executive director of the APA, said in an emailed statement Thursday morning that the agency is aware of the need to accelerate renewable energy development.
“The agency developed a new commercial energy permit application specifically designed for solar energy generation projects,” Martino said. “We have already successfully used the new permit application to approve a solar energy generating project in Essex County and the agency is efficiently reviewing additional alternative projects proposed within the Adirondack Park.”
Most environmental nonprofit organizations released statements following the governor’s speech, praising the initiatives discussed. Others, including the New York Public Interest Research Group, wanted more from Cuomo.
“The state desperately needs new revenues–particularly given the costs to combat the impacts of the climate crisis–and the oil, coal and gas companies should be on the hook for paying for a crisis that they created, not every day New Yorkers,” said Liz Moran, environmental policy director of the group. “In addition, the state should eliminate nonessential tax subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.”
Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates NY, said he looked “forward to learning of other pieces of the Governor’s agenda–like electrifying transportation and addressing building efficiency–that are also essential in the battle against climate change.”
While Cuomo’s focus was energy on Wednesday, groups like New Yorkers for Clean Water and Jobs also said in a statement that it will be important to safeguard things like the Environmental Protection Fund and the Clean Water Infrastructure Act.
Cuomo is expected to address the state again next week with his 2022 budget proposal.