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State of the Environmental State: Governor Cuomo’s Ambitious Plans to Combat Climate Change and Grow New York’s Green Economy

EES Globe- Governor Cuomo Climate Change and New York Building Efficiency

Written by Rich Kassel, Executive Vice President, Capalino+Company

On January 8, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo presented a State of the State address that continues the State’s leadership on climate and energy issues.  Calling climate change “the transcendent threat of our times” and building on last year’s groundbreaking Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the Governor’s proposals will lower greenhouse emissions from buildings, transportation, and energy generation in the State and help prepare New York for a future that includes more extreme weather.

More specifically, the Governor’s proposals include:

  • Increased investments in Electric Vehicles (EVs): For EVs to become commonplace in the New York market, EV owners need place to charge their vehicles quickly.  Over the next five years, Governor Cuomo’s proposal will install at least 800 EV “fast-charging” stations across the state that will enable drivers to recharge in minutes, rather than hours (including at every travel plaza on the NYS Thruway), invest $100 million in Green Bank financing to attract EV manufacturers and other related businesses to New York, and convene an EV task force to further accelerate the transition to EVs in New York.
  • New commitments to Electric Bus Transit: Diesel bus pollution has been a concern for New York’s communities for decades. (I spent much of the 1990s advocating for cleaner transit buses and trucks in New York and at the federal level as head of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Dump Dirty Diesels Campaign).  Building on last year’s commitment to convert the MTA’s buses from diesel to electric power by 2040, the Governor’s plan will electrify the buses of five upstate and suburban transit systems by 2035.
  • Additional investments in Low-Carbon Buildings: To meet the State’s long-term climate goals, many existing buildings will need to be retrofit to use less energy.  In 2020, NYSERDA will launch a $30 million Empire Building Retrofit Challenge that will enable property owners, developers, equipment manufacturers, and energy efficiency providers to implement new, scalable technologies to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from commercial and multi-family buildings.
  • Critical next steps on Offshore Wind: In 2019, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority awarded the State’s first offshore wind projects to the Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind projects, which will bring nearly 1,700 megawatts of offshore wind energy to New York. In 2020, NYSERDA will initiate its next solicitation for at least 1,000 megawatts of additional offshore wind, a key step towards the State’s commitment to 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035.  The State will also begin a competitive process to award $200 million to create the necessary port infrastructure to help ensure that the jobs associated with the growth in offshore wind energy will be centered in New York State.
  • More Solar, Onshore Wind, and Energy Storage: To meet the State’s goal of 70% renewable energy by 2030, New York needs to support the development of increased solar power, upstate land-based wind power, and new systems to store this energy for use when it is most needed.  The Governor’s plans for the coming year commits NYSERDA to supporting 21 large-scale projects across the state, which will add more than 1,000 megawatts of renewable capacity and 40 megawatts of energy storage capacity.   This, in turn, is expected to create more than 2,000 short-term and long-term jobs and power more than 350,000 homes.
  • Preparing the electric grid for more Renewable Generation: As the grid adds more renewable power offshore and upstate, the State will need to create a comprehensive plan to safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively bring this power to the City and other areas of the State that will want to use this power.  In 2020, the State will begin planning to authorize and build this new transmission capacity.
  • A $3 Billion “Restore Mother Nature” Bond Act: With five “100-year storms” in New York since 2010, it is increasingly clear that we need to plan for a future New York that will see more extreme weather events.  In 2020, Governor Cuomo will launch the “Restore Mother Nature” program to restore critical habitats and reduce floods that are more likely to occur in the future.  Part of this program will include a $3 billion bond act that would help pay to restore wetlands from Long Island to the Great Lakes, fight the increasing problem of summertime algae blooms, and repair flood-damaged dams in the Adirondack and Catskill mountains.

In the weeks and months to come, each of these proposals will be further fleshed out, debated, and discussed.  For now, as we begin the New Year, it’s exciting to see the Cuomo administration move forward with another set of ambitious climate and clean energy proposals to kick off the new year.

Richard KasselCapalino+Company works with companies and non-profit organizations to develop and implement low-emission, sustainable business strategies, and to facilitate the adoption of innovative building, energy, resiliency, solid waste, transportation, and water technologies, products, and projects.

For more information on our Energy, Environment + Sustainability Services, contact Rich Kassel at or 212-616-5822.

Energy, Environment + Sustainability Services

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