New York pledged the nation’s most aggressive climate goals two years ago, pledging to transition away from fossil fuels that are heating the world and to build a new, electrified economy that does not contribute to climate change by 2050. Hundreds of solar and wind power farms were built by state agencies and private enterprises to power businesses, automobiles, and homes.
There is, however, an issue.
New York successfully has two electrical grids: one upstate, which generates the majority of the state’s rising clean-power supply, and one in and around the New York City, which uses the most energy and depends largely on fossil-fuel power. The electrical lines which connect the two are already overburdened with electrons and can’t transport anymore.
Environmental campaigners hope that Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement of two huge transmission-line programs to help bridge that disparity is a sign that she is speeding up the state’s efforts to tackle climate change and environmental injustices.
New York has only nine years under the law to greater than double the amount of electricity generated by wind, sun, and water to 70%, up from less than 30% currently. This will necessitate integrating and expanding the state’s divided electrical infrastructure, as well as restructuring it to function more like an ecosystem than a one-way transmitter. By 2040, the grid must be capable of providing 75% more power while remaining flexible: It should send excess wind power north from Long Island turbines to consumers upstate on windy days, and abundant electricity south from remote solar farms to the metropolis throughout the summer.
The transmission-line projects were announced alongside a slew of other initiatives aimed at reducing emissions and addressing environmental inequity, including tripling the state’s solar energy growth goal and launching a program to enhance the air quality in low-income, heavily polluted areas.
Ms. Hochul’s administration recently halted renovations to two gas-fired power facilities, weighing in on a contentious argument over whether the state should cease approving new fossil-fuel infrastructure right away. “Objectives are goals,” Ms. Hochul remarked earlier of the state’s climate law, speaking at the worldwide climate conference in Glasgow. “I’m looking for results.”
The new transmission lines are expected to send renewable energy directly to the New York City, putting an end to the state’s “tale of two grids” — greener upstate and excessive reliance on fossil fuels downstate, according to Doreen Harris, the state’s energy development agency’s head. At the time of the last analysis, only 21% of the city’s power came from non-emitting sources, a percentage that quickly dropped to 3% with the closing of the Indian Point nuclear reactor.