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Legislation

The Problem: Currently, New York still gets only 5% of its electricity from wind and solar, and 29% from all renewables including hydropower. We do not have enough renewable projects planned to meet the CLCPA’s mandate of 70% renewable energy by 2030, and several planned projects have already been canceled due to inflation and changing market conditions. Fossil fuel prices are rising far above the cost of renewables, millions of New Yorkers can’t afford their utility bills, and there is currently no plan for a just transition to help fossil fuel workers transition to green jobs.

The Solution: Enable the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to build and own new renewable electricity generation projects. NYPA is the largest public power provider in the country, and already provides 25% of NY’s energy, of which about 88% is affordable, renewable hydroelectric power. But NYPA is artificially restricted from building or owning more than six renewable projects over 25MW. The Build Public Renewables Act would remove this restriction to allow NYPA to build new large-scale renewables more quickly, affordably, and democratically than private developers can, and to guarantee that we meet our climate targets in time to preserve a livable planet.

The Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA) (S6453C/A1466D) will:

  • Empower and require NYPA to build and own enough new renewable generation to guarantee that the state meets the CLCPA’s mandate of 70% renewable energy by 2030.
  • Require NYPA will phase out the dozen fossil fuel plants it now owns by 2030 unless NYISO finds they are needed for reliability, with a just transition for fossil fuel workers including funding for retraining and priority hiring for displaced workers on all renewable projects built by this act.
  • Enable NYPA to sell low-cost renewable energy directly to NY residential customers, with a 50% discount for low-to-moderate income customers, prioritizing disadvantaged communities.
  • Require NYPA to provide all state-owned buildings with 100% renewable energy by 2030, and all municipal-owned buildings with 100% renewable energy by 2035, on an opt-out basis. 
  • Direct NYPA to work with NYSERDA and the Public Service Commission (PSC) on a program that will perform retrofits, remediate lead and mold, and implement efficiency measures in the public buildings that need them the most. This program will install heat pumps in all public housing and public schools by 2035, prioritizing disadvantaged communities.
  • The bill includes a democratization plan for NYPA as well as transparency mechanisms. NYPA will hold annual public hearings on their renewable energy plans and seek feedback from local communities on siting decisions.
  • The bill will be revenue neutral for the state, and will be financed through a combination of NYPA’s low-cost bond issuances, free cash flows, and progressive electric rates.
  • This would generate between $48.6-$93.5 billion in additional economic activity by 2030, and keep more of the dollars we spend on energy in New York. Right now, $36 billion of the $61 billion we pay annually for energy flows out of state because we are so reliant on fossil fuels, and we use foreign-owned companies to build offshore wind.
  • This will create between 28,410 – 51,133 good jobs. All NYPA projects will pay prevailing wage and will be subject to Project Labor Agreements and buy-American provisions.
  • A Data for Progress poll found 81% of Democrats and 68% of all likely voters support this bill.
  • Unions that have expressed support for the Build Public Renewables Act include NYSUT, UUP, PSC-CUNY, 1199SEIU, and UAW Region 9A.