By Suzanne Hunt
and Jigar Shah
A large majority of New Yorkers are now concerned about climate change and believe it is a crisis requiring urgent action. Over just the last few months, some of the biggest names in business have announced that they are spearheading commitments to protect our planet and their bottom line.
While such commitments are important, governments must also update their approach. For New York to lead the nation in renewable energy innovation, we need all levels of government to start taking tangible strides to break needless, bureaucratic logjams and resolve inconsistencies. The recent policy proposal from the Cuomo administration – the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth & Community Benefit Act – would do just that.
Among other things, it would unlock the nearly decade-long backlog of large-scale renewable energy projects in New York. It would direct state agencies and public authorities to identify and permit build-ready sites to accommodate large and mid-sized renewable energy projects.
According to The National Law Review, Cuomo’s bill “signals a shift in thinking about renewable energy siting, from a bureaucratic energy regulatory issue, sometimes hindered by fierce local opposition, to an economic development process focused on steering the train of jobs and economic benefits anticipated from renewables over the next decade.” In other words, it would accelerate thousands of good paying jobs and prevent millions of tons of carbon dioxide.
The proposal would also prove integral to allowing New York State to meet the goals of the ambitious Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, passed last year. The law requires an unprecedented level of investment and deployment of renewable energy and climate solutions. Right now, however, the state is mired in red tape. A large part of the problem is the cumbersome Article 10 permitting process.
Article 10 is outdated and it’s hurting our state as well as our economy. There are nearly 60 renewable energy projects sitting in the Article 10 queue right now; some have been there since 2012. The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth & Community Benefit Act will streamline and consolidate the permitting process and get these projects moving.
The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth & Community Benefit Act will unlock economic development while ensuring that local communities are in the driver’s seat. This legislation is an example of the kind of tangible, purposeful action governments at all levels must take in order to change “business as usual.”
Suzanne Hunt is president of Hunt Green LLC. Jigar Shah is co-founder of Generate Capital Inc. and co-host of the Energy Gang.