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Recovery for All: Mayor de Blasio Announces Major Step Forward Towards Purchase of Large-Scale Renewable Electricity

April 20, 2021

Joint purchase will supply sufficient electricity to power City government operations with 100% renewable electricity by 2025 

NEW YORK—Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City has signed a letter of intent in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) committing the City to pursuing a joint purchase of large-scale renewable source of electricity delivered to the city, which could include Canadian hydropower to the extent selected or its equivalent. This joint purchase, which will power City government operations with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025, will provide additional value to disadvantaged and energy burdened communities as well as all residents of the State, and be a dramatic step forward as part of the City’s comprehensive climate mitigation strategy to ensure the City makes a just transition to a clean energy economy. 

"Clean energy is directly linked to a fair recovery," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "It's about investing in our future and our frontline communities. Today we're taking major step forward to secure renewable energy for New York City and power our government with 100 percent renewables by 2025."

Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “NYSERDA’s Tier 4 solicitation is designed to increase the amount of renewable energy delivered into New York City and direct significant benefits to those in the state’s most disadvantaged communities. We welcome the opportunity to share in the cost-effective procurement that will be realized due to the substantial level of competitive interest seen by the initial private sector response. We appreciate the City’s focus to align with the state’s work in reducing carbon emissions from its operations and recognizing the important value a joint purchase would bring to all New Yorkers.”

Through OneNYC 2050, Mayor Bill de Blasio has set ambitious and aggressive goals for confronting our climate crisis, ending the age of fossil fuels, and securing a livable climate for the next generation. New York State has also established a bold policy for transforming our economy and the manner in which electricity is produced and delivered to customers in New York through the Renewable Portfolio Standard and the Clean Energy Standard, and more recently via the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. City and State policies are aligned on the urgent need to end the age of fossil fuels, to replace in-city polluting energy infrastructure that is largely concentrated in environmental justice communities, to catalyze the City’s electrification of building heating and hot water and meet its commitment to end natural gas connections, and the deliverability of clean energy into the city is a crucial step in doing so. 

The intense congestion in the state’s transmission network and requirements for in-city generation make it difficult to bring clean energy to the city, and the imminent closure of Indian Point will, in the near term, puts added pressure on accelerating the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency in New York City. The City has made major strides towards carbon neutrality with an expansion of solar, support for offshore wind, bold steps to achieve energy efficiency, and committing to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure in the city, but these are not enough to meet the city’s growing energy needs into the future. Connecting to existing clean, reliable hydropower or equivalent large-scale renewable source of energy would supply a major source of renewable energy for the city that would also support additional renewables by providing clean baseload power, energy resiliency benefits and blackstart capabilities, and would be able to replace local fossil fuel-powered generation and improve local air quality.

About the Letter of Intent

The letter of intent lays out the parameters the City will take into consideration prior to entering into a long-term agreement to purchase Clean Energy Standard Renewable Energy Certificates (“RECs”) associated with the delivery of renewable energy into Zone J of the New York Control Area. 

The City intends to purchase a sufficient quantity of RECs to secure 100% of its energy needs from renewable resources while preserving the ability to engage in deep energy retrofits, other energy efficiency measures and the deployment of renewable distributed energy resources.

Other important considerations for the City include:

  • only pursuing RECs associated with renewable resources that are delivered into New York City and which lessen the need for the in-City fossil generation fleet; 
  • new generation and transmission resources that create or exacerbate negative impacts on environmental justice communities will not be considered by the City;
  • the degree to which the project(s) will directly contribute to local air quality improvements and provide other localized benefits must be evaluated and considered in selecting project(s);
  • to the extent the selected project(s) involve Canadian hydropower resources, the City will continue to prioritize actions that respect the rights of First Nations and their ancestral territories, and commends NYSERDA for requiring that hydropower credited under Tier 4 is additional to historical production, and for ensuring that new hydropower impoundments are ineligible under Tier 4;
  • the City plans to continue to reduce its energy usage via robust energy efficiency measures, and any contractual agreement for RECs cannot inhibit or restrict these efforts but would serve as a necessary complement to its continued robust investment in energy conservation.
  • the specific terms of the commitment would be determined as part of any contract negotiations with NYSERDA or a NYSERDA counterparty.

“This is the electricity of the future, and it can't come soon enough,” said Ben Furnas, Director of the Mayor's Office of Climate and Sustainability. “With this commitment to vastly increase the supply of renewable electricity to New York City, we will clean our air, correct injustice, and race towards a future beyond fossil fuels. Thank you to NYSERDA for their partnership as we work together to build a safer, cleaner, fairer energy system for New York."

“The City and State have set aggressive climate mitigation goals to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, and this agreement will help deliver on those goals by providing always-on renewable energy to New York City," said Anthony Fiore, NYC Chief Energy Management Officer and DCAS Deputy Commissioner for Energy Management. "This deal will reduce local air pollution from fossil fuel power sources, improve public health, and provide access to clean power to disadvantaged and energy-burdened communities.”

Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, "We need an all-of-the-above approach to fight climate change: efficiency, transmission, clean energy, and cutting pollution in overburdened communities. This partnership will set the City on a path to meet its climate change and renewable energy goals. Reaching 100% renewable electricity of its operations by 2025 will help the City lead by example when it comes to green power while prioritizing environmental justice. We thank Mayor de Blasio and NYSERDA President Doreen Harris for implementing this important program." 

“Despite the pandemic, New York City continues to lead America towards a brighter, cleaner modern energy future,” said Donnel Baird, Founder and CEO, BlocPower. “Dramatic investments in clean infrastructure are going to preserve our city, and our planet, for future generations, while creating thousands and thousands of great jobs.”

"New York continues to make exceptional strides in the sustainable economy, while ensuring that our working men and women are central to all of our forward-looking climate and jobs initiatives. This commitment by the City to large-scale renewable energy sources is yet another example of just that," said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. "We're grateful for Mayor de Blasio's leadership in forging this important partnership with the State, which will help us meet our clean energy goals, provide affordable energy to the communities that need it most, and in turn, create a robust pipeline for middle-class careers with benefits in the sustainable economy."

"Solar One applauds NYC’s clean energy leadership and investment in large-scale renewable energy initiatives that create good jobs for everyday New Yorkers right here in our backyard," said Chris Collins, Executive Director of Solar One.

“Expansion of the city’s renewable energy supply is essential to our post-pandemic economy and Canadian hydropower is a resource that will help insure New York’s future and sustain the Earth’s environment,” said Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City.

Jeffrey D. Sachs, University Professor, Columbia University and Co-Chair of the OneNYC Advisory Board said, “I strongly applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration for moving New York City decisively towards a climate-safe energy system. New York City’s sustainable development has been the unwavering goal of the Mayor. Today’s commitment to purchase clean energy certificates covering 100% of the government’s energy needs by 2025 is a bold step towards a sustainable New York City. It will not only spur major new investments in clean energy but also inspire cities around the world to join New York City in building the future we want.”   

Michael Gerrard, Professor and Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School said,As we phase out the use of fossil fuels to make electricity, to power our vehicles and to heat our buildings, it is essential to have large, reliable sources of clean electricity. This announcement is an important step in that direction. Not only will it help the climate, but it will also improve public health by reducing air pollution from the burning of oil and natural gas, especially in disadvantaged communities that have long borne unfair environmental burdens.”

Dr. Steven Cohen, Senior Vice Dean, School of Professional Studies, Columbia University and Director, Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management, The Earth Institute said,New York City’s commitment to a large-scale purchase of renewable energy is an important and welcome step on the road to creating an environmentally sustainable New York City. At this critical moment in our climate crisis, Mayor de Blasio and his team have taken a significant, tangible step on the long path we must navigate to meet the city’s ambitious decarbonization goals.”

David Miller, Director of International Diplomacy, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group said, “New York City is a global climate leader in buildings, divestment and now on clean energy, with today’s announcement of a joint purchase of clean energy that will make the City’s operations 100 per cent powered by clean energy by 2025.”

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