The complex web of New York’s local governments and regulations, along with a lack of resources and strong competition from other states, has limited the state’s ability to develop renewable energy technologies, according to findings released Tuesday.
The state’s Renewable Energy Task Force identified a series of problems New York faces in achieving its goal of generating 25 percent renewable energy by 2013.
Lt. Gov. David Paterson is chairman of the task force. Gov. Eliot Spitzer has called for reducing the state’s electricity consumption 15 percent below forecast levels by 2015.
One major obstacle to alternative energy use in New York comes from the complex and numerous local governments that have varying laws and restrictions that apply to installing new energy systems.
“Renewable energy installers and potential owners face a patchwork of widely differing local government requirements and home owner association restrictions, creating hurdles to the efficient and widespread installation of renewable energy systems,” the task force said.
New York also faces a competitive disadvantage, because other states provide substantially more funding for incentives to attract clean industries.
“New York has lacked the vision to ask ourselves the hard questions of why renewable industries are locating in surrounding states, and how do we utilize and maximize New York’s resources, and craft polices that are environmentally balanced and economically sustainable for our state,” the task force said in its executive summary. A full report is expected later this year.
“There are a number of other places that do see this (energy efficiency) as an opportunity for their area to stand out and try to put themselves first in line to attract this next generation of green technologies,” said Carol Werner, executive director of the District of Columbia-based Environmental and Energy Study Institute.
California, and Sacramento in particular, have been leaders in providing incentives, requests for proposals, direct funding and competitive grants to attract green companies, Werner said.
Ann Arbor, Mich.; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; Seattle and Chicago have also led the way in developing major projects to develop more efficient energy technology and attract new businesses, she said.
Paterson identified California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania as New York’s competition for businesses attracted to alternative energy sources. He said New York hasn’t prioritized renewable energy in the budget.
“California has a plan to invest billions into renewable energy,” Paterson said. “In this respect they’re ahead of us and corporate America has followed the less costly plan.”
The task force said the state needs more funding to achieve its goals.
The $41.3 million funding the Renewable Portfolio Standard program is not sufficient to change New York’s energy use, the task force said. The RPS program was created to improve energy security, help diversify the state’s electricity options and increase economic development opportunities in the renewables industry.
The task force is to identify and recommend potential markets for investment invest that would increase the state’s use of renewable energy and alternative fuels.
By Valerie Bauman
25 September 2007
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