New York fell short of an early target in its multiyear effort to boost the use of wind power and other clean energy sources.
The Pataki administration adopted a policy in 2004 to increase New York’s reliance on renewable energy to 25 percent by 2013. At that time, regulators set up yearly targets to increase renewable energy use in steady increments.
The target for 2006 was to purchase 1.1 million megawatt hours of renewable energy. The state has fallen short of that goal by about a third, according to figures from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Industry and government officials note the yearly targets are nonbinding. They say the lag reflects an evolving market and that the state could be back on target within a few years.
“The potential is there to reach those targets, particularly with wind,” said Carol Murphy, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York.
New York provides incentives for wind farms, dams and other renewable producers through long-term contracts to purchase the credits associated with “green energy.” The money comes from special charges on electric bills that average 27 cents a month for residential customers.
The first contracts awarded in January 2005 belong to three hydro projects and three wind farms – the largest being Maple Ridge Wind Farm on the Tug Hill Plateau. The projects do not produce enough power to meet the 2006 target. NYSERDA’s John Saintcross said there simply wasn’t enough funding to let out more contracts among the pool of eligible candidates.
“At that point, we didn’t have the number of projects in the pipeline in the Northeast,” he said. “That’s changed a lot.”
With a new round of bids due in January, Saintcross said the authority could land enough contracts to bring New York back up to target levels by 2008.
Murphy said the wind market is growing, with dozens of potential projects in the pipeline. She said there also will likely be growth in solar, fuel cells and biofuels.
New York already receives about 19 percent of its electricity from wind, water and other renewable sources, most of it from the New York Power Authority’s hydro projects at Niagara Falls and on the St. Lawrence River.
It’s too early to tell if the state can meet its ultimate goal in 2013. Saintcross said it will depend a lot on whether the state has the money to buy enough credits.
By Michael Hill
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