News & Bulletins

Summar 2001
Clearwater Energy Policy 2001 for New York State

A Declaration of Energy Independence

  • Fossil fuels should be declared TRANSITIONAL energy sources. All public policy should be designed to reduce fossil fuel dependence and downgrade fossil fuel usage.

  • A final goal of 100% renewable energy usage must be publicly and explicitly declared.

Power Plant Siting

  • New York needs a comprehensive and fair power plant siting process, which ensures citizen participation and protection of the environment and public health. Siting applications currently in review have not had to assess cumulative impacts, need, business modeling, or alternatives.

  • The State siting board should be required to consider the cumulative health and environmental impacts of power plants by region or sub-region. Currently, each new plant is considered independently, and those below 80 Megawatts fall below regulatory statute. In areas such as NY City, siting boards should assess the impacts of all existing and proposed power plants, including the smaller, non-regulated ones. Areas already overburdened with non-attainment (violations) of air quality standards, polluting facilities, and high asthma rates should not be forced to accept new power plants. Siting bodies should require developers to consider more appropriate locations for new power plants.

  • NY should create incentives to convert older, `dirtier´ power plants to more efficient, cleaner technologies. This `repowering´ should be given preference over new construction.

Power Plant Regulation

  • New York State should require power plants that are `grandfathered´ under the Federal Clean Air Act to meet current environmental standards. Currently, eighteen plants in NY are allowed to pollute 4 to 10 times more than new, more efficient power plants.

  • New York should regulate power plants using a 4 Pollutant Standard. Recently, NY State committed to increase environmental standards for nitrogen oxides (NOX) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and mercury, which are not currently regulated, also cause serious environmental and health problems and should be regulated. The environmental effects of these 4 pollutants include:

    • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx): Causes summer smog and nitrification of water bodies
    • Sulfur Dioxide (SO2): Contributes to acid rain, haze, and fine particles creation
    • Carbon Dioxide (CO2): Increases global climate change
    • Mercury (Hg): Contaminates water sources, and fish and wildlife

  • Particulate Matter or fine particles should also face stronger regulation. These particles can embed themselves deep in our lungs, causing asthma attacks and serious respiratory diseases.

  • Nuclear power should be phased out. NY should work to decommission the six remaining nuclear facilities in the state. There is no way to safely store nuclear wastes. Low level radiation releases threaten public health, and evacuation planning for Indian Point 2 and 3 remains grossly inadequate.

  • The use of diesel generators for electricity production should be restricted to emergencies only. New York State Power Authority (NYPA) and Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) should not encourage their use during hours of high demand due to the high levels of pollution emitted. Incentives should be created to encourage clean sources of decentralized generation, e.g., photovoltaic cells and fuel cells.

Renewable Energy

Over the next 15 years, NY State should increase the share of electricity from renewable energy sources to 25% of electricity production. These sources include solar, wind, clean biofuels, low impact hydropower, and fuel cells. To accomplish this goal, the State should implement:

  • Renewable Portfolio Standards, which require power distributors to purchase a certain percentage of their power mix from renewable energy producers. This requirement guarantees a market for renewables and creates incentives for investment in these technologies. Currently, 8 states have such standards, including Massachusetts and Texas. Required percentages increase over time.

  • `Net Metering,´ which allows homeowners and businesses using renewable energy to sell excess energy back to the grid, actually spinning electric meters backwards. Barriers to this such as utility exit fees and standby charges should be eliminated. NY currently has solar net metering, but does not have it for wind power and biofuels. According to some reports, utilities have also been obstructing net-metered solar installations. This must stop immediately.

  • New York Power Authority and Long Island Power Authority should commit to increase the percentage of renewable power they purchase to 25% in 15 years, taking the critical first step of creating new markets to support investments in renewables. Likewise, all state buildings should get 25% of their electricity from renewables in 15 years.

  • Provide consumers with point-of-purchase disclosure of power production sources so that consumers can choose real `green´ energy alternatives, if retail choice becomes available.

  • Increase investment in research and development of alternative energy technologies and encourage production through tax incentives.

Energy Conservation and Efficiency

New York State should strive to:

  • Reduce the energy use of its operations by 25% over 15 years and significantly reduce energy use by commercial and residential customers.

  • Provide rebates and incentives for green buildings, which use energy more efficiently.

  • Increase funding to programs administered by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for Demand-Side Management, and for statewide energy planning. Programs, such as trade-ins of old air conditioners for more efficient ones or rebates for compact fluorescent bulbs, should be extended and greater publicized.

  • Increase efficiency standards for new buildings and appliances.

News Clearwater Homepage

Send comments and questions to