In March we were happy to report that nuclear power was gaining acceptance as a clean energy source, specifically in New York. Now there is more good news as the New York State’s Public Service Commission voted yesterday to adopt the New York State Clean Energy Standard, advocating both renewables and nuclear. The overall aim is to increase renewables to provide 50-percent of electricity by 2030, whilst also retaining the state’s six nuclear plants which currently produce 30-percent of electricity.
The plan involves paying subsidies to the upstate nuclear power plants to ensure they keep operating. Nuclear power is struggling at a time of low prices for power and gas but is essential to meet decarbonisation targets and improve air quality. A statement from Governor Cuomo’s office said, “a growing number of climate scientists have warned that if these nuclear plants were to abruptly close, carbon emissions in New York will increase by more than 31 million metric tons during the next two years, resulting in public health and other societal costs of at least $1.4 billion.”
These clear benefits of retaining nuclear were argued by Rob DiFrancesco, director of New York AREA who said “New Yorkers win because they keep abundant, clean sources of power that generate billions of dollars in annual economic activity in the state, while preserving emission free nuclear power plants that help the state meet its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions”. Although this controversial plan has received much opposition, Eric Meyer, organizing director for Environmental Progress said it appears there are far more in favour than against.
An all of the above energy strategy, combining both renewables and nuclear, as well as storage, interconnection, CCS and efficiency investments, is the best way forward not just for New York, but for everyone. Our next report will be advocating a Clean Energy Consortium in the UK and hopefully many more will soon be following in New York’s progressive footsteps.