For New York City to achieve its climate and clean energy goals in the most cost-effective way, a diverse and growing coalition of major labor, business and environmental groups are urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to issue a new competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) to meet the city’s renewable electricity needs. The groups’ call for an RFP comes in the wake of the mayor’s announcement that the city would seek a contract for Canadian hydropower by the end of 2020 and, more recently, its interest in providing public financing to construct a new transmission line, the Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) from Quebec to New York City. The CHPE line is estimated to cost in excess of $3 billion.
To be effective, the city’s RFP must include mechanisms that:
- Ensure that the city meets the mayor’s 2015 commitment to 100% carbon-free electricity for city operations by 2040;
- Can be demonstrated to not result in an emissions increase;
- Complies with the state’s Clean Energy Standard eligibility requirements and aligns with and helps achieve the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”); and
- Maximizes local economic benefits and local job creation.
Sierra Club senior organizing representative Shay O’Reilly said, “While the climate crisis demands a swift decarbonization of New York City’s electricity, we’re confident that there are better solutions for our city than a power-purchase agreement with Canadian megadam company Hydro-Quebec. A transparent and competitive process will show that we can instead invest in local renewable energy, with our public money going towards a solution that will provide good economic and social benefits for our communities.”
New York Offshore Wind Alliance director Joe Martens said, “Offshore wind energy is poised to provide clean, affordable electricity to Downstate New York. Importantly, it will also provide thousands of jobs, revitalize regional port infrastructure and help diversify New York’s energy mix. With rapidly declining costs, it should be part of the city’s clean energy strategy.”
IPPNY president and CEO Gavin Donohue said, “Competition means New Yorkers win. Given the success of competitive RFPs at the state level and the breadth of existing and new renewable power throughout New York, the landscape is ripe for New York City to find the best option for consumers. Proceeding any other way would expose ratepayers to unnecessary and unwanted costs. Getting this right means positioning the City and our state as leaders in addressing climate change’s impacts globally.”
ACE NY executive director Anne Reynolds said, “We all agree we need more renewable energy. But the best approach is one that harmonizes the Mayor’s commitment to power city operations with renewables with the state’s 70% Clean Energy Standard and climate law. A sensible next step is an open, competitive RFP that allows all clean technologies to compete, including the more than 3,000 MW of proposed wind and solar power projects in Upstate New York and potential offshore wind projects.”
AWEA Eastern Region director Andrew Gohn said, “Wind energy in Upstate New York as well as off New York’s shores should be an important part of the city’s clean power commitments and is ready to compete in a competitive process that is open to all clean energy technologies.”
New York State Boilermakers president Tom Ryan said, “CHPE will steal jobs and tax revenues from New Yorkers while moving 1,000 megawatts of electricity under the Hudson River. It will stifle the creation of good middle class construction jobs for New York City residents and impede the American manufacturing of clean energy products planned for Staten Island and the Port of Coeymans. We firmly believe that electricity for New Yorkers should be generated by New Yorkers.”
Adirondack Council executive director William Janeway said, “A request for proposals that seeks local and regional renewable energy sources for New York City would avoid the need for a new, high-voltage power cable through the Adirondack Park and under Lake Champlain. That means less potential for damage to sensitive natural resources along a 100-mile-plus proposed route through New York State’s national treasures.”
New York City did issue a Request for Information four years ago, in 2015, but did not follow up with an RFP. Instead, the Mayor announced his intention to enter into a contract with Hydro-Quebec to deliver power over the proposed 333-mile CHPE transmission line. The line would be routed underground — largely beneath the Hudson River and along Lake Champlain — and would not allow other energy resources to also be transmitted across it, such as renewable electricity generated Upstate.
Meanwhile, New York’s CLCPA sets an ambitious 70% renewable electricity goal and makes competitive market-based solutions even more essential. The CHPE line would not deliver power that is defined as a “Tier 1” renewable in New York, and it thus will not help the city meet its requirements under the Clean Energy Standard. In contrast to New York City, the state holds annual competitive RFP processes; the response to these RFPs has been strong, with 46 projects receiving awards totaling 3,037 MW of new, renewable capacity Upstate and two offshore wind projects that total 1,696 MW.