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With NY Energy Goals Expiring, Wind Power Faces Uncertainty

PHOTO: New York is drawing more of its electricity from wind power than ever, but that trend could stop if the state abandons its renewable-energy targets this year. Photo credit: Jonathan Percy/CC.
PHOTO: New York is drawing more of its electricity from wind power than ever, but that trend could stop if the state abandons its renewable-energy targets this year. Photo credit: Jonathan Percy/CC.
March 27, 2015

NEW YORK - New York is drawing more of its electricity from wind power than ever, but that trend could stop if the state abandons its renewable-energy targets this year.

The state's renewable-energy standard requires New York to get 30 percent of its electricity from sources such as wind and solar, and the standard is set to expire at the end of 2015. Kit Kennedy, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's energy and transportation program, said the wind industry could feel serious consequences if the state decides not to extend it.

"Particularly for wind, it's extremely bad news," she said, "It means that this important policy, which has really supported investment in wind power and the growth that we've had in wind power, will just come to a halt."

There are other options for the wind industry if the standard expires. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has created a Green Bank to fund as much as $5 billion in clean-energy investments. The governor's office said the bank is designed to support wind and solar development as well as energy-efficiency projects.

In March, New York drew a record-breaking 7 percent of its electricity from wind power - up from virtually nothing 10 years ago. Kennedy said New York should keep up that progress by not only extending but expanding its renewable-energy goals to 50 percent by 2025.

"That is both an ambitious and an achievable target," she said, "because, of course, New York state is blessed with great renewable-energy resources - not only wind and solar but a lot of hydropower, which we've successfully harnessed."

New York's first wind farm started delivering power in 2000. In the past decade, wind power in the state has grown from about 50 megawatts to more than 1,700 megawatts currently.

Derek Hawkins, Public News Service - NY