NYPA should take the lead in achieving 50 by 30 goal
The New York Power Authority has been a key player in low-cost power generation and distribution in the state since the 1950s. The combined might of the Niagara Power Project and the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project dwarfs more celebrated, federally funded, hydroelectric projects.
NYPA creates 100 times as much hydroelectric power as the Tennessee Valley Authority and five times as much as the Hoover Dam. But, despite producing nearly 20 billion kwh of clean electricity, it’s nowhere near enough to meet the state’s 50 by 30 goal – 50 percent of electric generation from renewables by 2030.
Hydropower produces less than a fifth of the state’s electricity. But unless you count the potential for wave and river turbine generation, hydropower is maxed out in New York. In order to meet the 50 by 30 goal, we need NYPA to make a leap as bold as those made that developed New York’s hydropower resources as a public benefit. NYPA should use its strong bond rating and ability to secure low-cost financing to harness New York’s substantial wind resources.
Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to build enough offshore wind capacity to power 1.25 million homes in New York by 2030, focusing on the ocean waters off Long Island. But offshore wind potential is also available in Western New York. Ohio is looking to exploit this resource and is currently considering proposals for several offshore sites in Lake Erie.
NYPA’s low-cost capital could make the economics of offshore wind in Lakes Erie and Ontario superior to the proposed projects in Ohio. Combined with land-based wind farms proposed for the Southern Tier, NYPA could be the force that gets New York to the 50 by 30 goal. With its track record of producing clean, low-cost power, NYPA should take the lead in funding the next generation of large-scale power generation in New York.
John S. Szalasny