Editorial: New York journeying into darkness as statewide energy issues loom

May 5, 2022

Post Editorial Board | May 4, 2022

The state Department of Environmental Conservation needs to make the right call ona crucial liquefied-natural-gas project, or New Yorkers will be out in the cold. 


The DEC has until Friday to issue permits for two new LNG vaporizers at a National Grid facility in Brooklyn, to back up the plant’s main generating capacity during winter demand surges(and make its overall operation cleaner and more efficient).

If the DEC bows to green agitators, the plant will be unable to meet demand for the coldest days of upcoming winters. That means real suffering, and even deaths.(The catastrophic blackouts caused by a freak Texas blizzard in February 2021 killed as many as 750.) 

In other words, it’ll mark yet one more step on New York’s journey into darkness. 

That journey began with 2019’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a piece of green insanity that will — if its roadmap is followed — lock in permanent energy pain across the Empire State while costing taxpayers more than $300 billion

In fact, a new report from the Empire Center pegs the energy deficits the CLCPA will cause at 10% by 2040, when the act says New York must go emissions-free. 

That’s what happens when legislators plan to sacrifice our state’s actual generating capacity for pie-eyed dreams about renewable energy, i.e. wind and solar (now accounting for less than 6% of our power). 

That same report shows that the CLCPA’s proposed solar and wind build-outs — assuming they happen in time — will generate less than a third of the energy needed to make up for the removal of other capacity even as consumption increases.   

In other words, large-scale energy scarcity. 

Today’s skyrocketing energy prices are just a hint of how utterly detached from reality the CLCPA really is. 

To really go green, New York needs to keep its existing conventional capacity alive while it builds more nuclear (and, sure, wind and solar, too). We also need to unleash fracking, as neighboring Pennsylvania has done, to reap energy and jobs gains. Cutting New York’s carbon emissions to zero will do little to combat climate change globally while inflicting massive pain here. Which shows, yet again, that green pols are more interested in political power than clean energy.

Op-Ed | Good energy policy protects good union jobs

May 5, 2022

Constance Bradley, President of TWU Local 101 | May 4, 2022

For years the State of New York has constrained natural gas supply to the City of New York under the misguided belief that the state’s nation-leading climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, CLCPA for short, required it. Advocates in 2019 opposed a new interstate pipeline that would have allowed for ample supply to New York City and Long Island. As a result, and to meet the needs of customers, members of TWU members answered the call and helped build a number of smaller infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions, referred to as the “Distributed Infrastructure Solution,” that addresses supply constraints in downstate New York. However, these solutions have faced their own permitting challenges, even though they were required to address the supply-demand gap that was created when the pipeline solution fell out of political favor and failed to receive the approvals necessary to build it.

One component of the Distributed Infrastructure Solution is National Grid’s air permit for its new vaporizers at the Greenpoint Energy Center is pending a decision by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The vaporizers are operated infrequently but are critical to the overall gas supply in the City, in fact, each of the last two winters the units operated for only two days. New, more efficient vaporizers would result in a decrease of the natural gas consumption from the facility’s current vaporizers and the new permit will be a downgrade from the current permit to roughly half of emissions that are allowed under the existing permit at that site.

The vaporizers are effectively a non-pipes solution that allows National Grid to serve peak demand without adding additional pipeline capacity or other less favored options, while at the same time pursuing a series of programs/projects in furtherance of net zero goals – and they enable to good paying union jobs of our members.

The New York State Public Service Commission noted the units would create “global warming potential savings” compared to meeting customer demand solely through reliance on additional pipeline capacity, and also found the vaporizers and other projects would not disproportionally impact disadvantaged communities.

National Grid and the NY Department of Public Service (DPS) Staff even engaged a consultant, PA Consulting, to conduct an independent review of National Grid’s plan. PA Consulting’s assessment corroborates National Grid’s gas constraint challenge; validates the need for additional capacity to service customers; and views the Distributed Infrastructure Solution as a “reasonable” solution, while acknowledging the risks to delivery (e.g., permitting, scaling up demand-side solutions quickly enough).

New Yorkers need DEC to approve these permits now to ensure people in NYC can safely and reliably heat their homes which has been vetted by independent reviews, the Public Service Commission and will not use more gas. Additionally, the effective technology will result in FEWER EMISSIONS. The deadline is fast approaching on May 6th. We don’t know why this is controversial.

Brooklyn, Queens. Burning Bright.

Constance Bradley is President of TWU Local 101 in Brooklyn. Members of TWU Local 101 work every day to ensure the safe and efficient delivery of natural gas in New York City.

Editorial — More input needed: State’s Climate Action Council must listen to concerns of critics

May 4, 2022

Livingston County News | May 4, 2022

New York has some very ambitious goals for its long-term energy usage.

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act passed in 2019 set the bar for green power. This law mandates that the state obtain at least 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. In addition, New York must achieve zero-emission energy by 2040 and lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 from 1990 levels.

It’s good that officials are thinking big when it comes to addressing climate change. We all need to take this issue more seriously and help reduce our carbon footprint.

But the state’s desire for major changes may not be matched the resources necessary to achieve them. People attending a forum in Buffalo last week debated the merits of various proposals with the Climate Action Council, which will create a scoping plan so the state can pursue its benchmarks.

“The drafters of a new scoping plan that will guide how New York state reduces carbon emissions over the next three decades heard last week from area environmental groups who urged them to act quickly, and from labor, utility companies and business groups who warned them against proceeding too fast. While Ellen Banks of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter said it was ‘time to move on’ from combustibles that contribute to an ‘increasingly dire’ climate crisis, Joe Benedict of the Western New York Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors argued that some sweeping changes proposed under the scoping plan would cost residents thousands of dollars to transition their homes away from natural gas heating and cooking,” according to a Buffalo News story published Sunday by the Watertown Daily Times. “While Rahwa Ghirmatzion of PUSH Buffalo pleaded for governmental leaders to have the political will to abandon ‘false solutions’ to addressing climate change and instead focus on advancing renewables such as solar, geothermal and wind energy, Grant Loomis of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership said removing natural gas from the state’s portfolio would create grid ‘reliability concerns.’

“And so it went for more than three hours [April 27] inside the auditorium of the main branch of the Buffalo & Erie County Library, with speaker after speaker, nearly 100 in all, arguing for and against elements of the state Climate Action Council’s draft scoping plan,” the article reported. “Council members are gathering public input on the plan, which proposes dramatic changes in the way New Yorkers heat their homes, cook their meals and drive to their jobs. The council will deliver a final plan to Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Legislature by the end of the year.”

State authorities have already put some very unrealistic ideas into motion.

Starting next year, new buildings will only be allowed to use electricity to power them (no gas lines may be connected). This is simply not feasible for the north country.

In addition, New York will ban the sale of vehicles powered by fossil fuels by 2035, a plan likely to fail. Will people comply with this law or continue to buy gas-powered vehicles (either used cars or new vehicles from other states)? And what does this mean for existing gas stations, which must accommodate gas-powered vehicles?

Officials must be more practical in their approach. There’s no way that New York will achieve its goals relying on solar and wind power. Nuclear energy and hydro-electricity must be more a part of the equation.

As the Climate Action Council receives input, members must take their concerns to heart. We won’t address climate change unless we have sensible measures to put into effect.

Climate zealots vs. N.Y. homeowners and workers

May 2, 2022

John Samuelsen and Constance Bradley | May 02, 2022

A draft proposal to cut greenhouse emissions would be a job-killing disaster that also will zap residents and homeowners with sky-high energy costs.

The proposal, drafted by the state’s Climate Action Council created under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, recommends dozens upon dozens of regulations to be adopted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. One of these calls for homeowners and business owners to convert, at significant expense, from gas to electric for heating, cooking and other energy needs.It would prohibit new gas hookups for existing buildings and new construction starting in 2024. In a phase-in starting in 2030, when existing gas furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, stoves or washer-dryers break down, buildings will have to begin switching over to electric appliances.

If the recommendations become regulations, the jobs of thousands of blue-collar workers providing natural gas to millions of residents and businesses in the metropolitan region would be wiped out. Welders, mechanics, pipeline inspectors, meter installers, plumbers, laborers and other types of workers would be callously thrown into unemployment.

Homeowners will incrementally have to retrofit their homes for electricity and electric appliances to replace gas service, which will easily cost more than $20,000. Most homes don’t have the electrical capacity for electric-powered heating, cooking, and other energy needs. According to industry figures, an electric heat pump for heating a single-family home will cost about $14,700. There will be another $6,400 minimum in expenses on insulation and other efficiency measures.

That’s just the capital costs. Electric heating will cost homeowners approximately 40% moreto operate than gas.

Are we trying to make New York more unaffordable?

TWU Local 101 supports a saner, more common-sense climate protecting plan put forth by National Grid, the utility that employs 1,600 of our members working in Brooklyn.

The National Grid plan would completely phase out the use of natural gas, a fossil fuel, by 2050. The current infrastructure would not be abandoned but used to provide carbon-free energy — produced by solar, wind, green hydrogen — and renewable natural gas. RNG comes from landfills, farms and wastewater facilities. This is waste converted into energy. That’s as green as it gets.

This would protect jobs, provide an energy option that is cheaper and more efficient than electricity, and help meet the goals in the law: to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and no less than 85% by 2050, from 1990 levels.

The “electrify everything” approach has other fatal flaws. The electrical grid would implode. We already endure power outages, and sometimes major blackouts, every summer. Homes go dark. Businesses close. Subway riders are stuck on trains in tunnels.

Even if the state had billions upon billions of dollars to upgrade the power system, a hybrid system that includes RNG would allow homeowners to choose the type of appliances they want in their homes and avoid higher energy costs, not get smacked with government mandates that they cook with electric stoves and buy electric boilers. National Grid’s plan maintains the current infrastructure, which is more reliable and resilient than the electrical system. The underground pipe infrastructure isn’t affected by the high temperatures that prompt everyone to turn on air-conditioners and stress the electrical system. It doesn’t get knocked out by lighting or heavy rainfall.

The common-sense plan also would maintain the blue-collar jobs that are vitally important in working-class communities like Brownsville and Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn; South Jamaica and Ozone Park in Queens; South Shore and Stapleton on Staten Island. These are jobs that enable people to put food on the table, pay the rent or mortgage, put their kids through college, and then retire with dignity and live their senior years in comfort.

Lots of people don’t go to college and then land suit-and-tie careers, for a variety of reasons, including it’s insanely expensive and a lot of families aren’t blessed with generational wealth.

Approximately 2.8 million working-age men and women in New York City don’t have a four-year college degree.

The CAC draft makes vague promises of utility workers getting retrained or “reskilled” for other jobs. Yeah, right. Tell that to all the factory and manufacturing plant workers who have seen their jobs shipped overseas after the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Tell that to all the workers who have lost their jobs in the latest wave of automation. According to an analysis by Ball State University, that wave, or tsunami, has swept away nine out of 10 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. since 2010.

The notion that a boiler installer or someone who has worked on high-pressure gas lines for 20 years is going to take a few courses at a community college and get a job sitting next to a tech-savvy millennial is a bad joke.

The National Grid plan is a better plan. It’s a common-sense plan. Our elected officials should embrace it.

Samuelsen is international president of the Transport Workers Union. Bradley is president of TWU Local 101 in Brooklyn.

Climate Action Council holds public hearing

April 28, 2022

Kelly Dudzik April 27, 2022

The New York State Climate Action Council is holding a public hearing Wednesday in Buffalo to talk about its proposed policies to reach the state’s climate goals.

The Draft Scoping Plan is a 341-page document that the state is getting the public’s comment on until June 10, 2022. It was created last year, and there’s a lot in there. 

The proposed goal is for the state to achieve 70% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040.

Some of the proposed policies include getting people to switch to electric vehicles and off of gas and oil to heat their homes and use electric heat pumps instead.

“A lot of those recommendations are going to have a direct impact on consumers, residents, businesses, and so, we’re trying to get the word out about that so that people can decide for themselves if they think that this plan is a good one and then come out and speak their mind if they think that it will have a consequential impact on them,” said Michelle Hook, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Affordable Energy.

“I do think that people are unaware of what the cost components will be associated with electrifying their home. You know, people say that having a heat pump, in the long run, will save you money over a natural gas system, but there’s an upfront cost of installing a heat pump depending on the size of your home and what your HVAC system looks like, it could be $25,000 or $30,000.”

Wednesday, we heard from people with various opinions about those proposals. Many will be speaking at the public hearing.

“So when I say we need a just transition, I’m talking about an economy that does not leave workers in fossil fuel industries behind as had happened so often to folks in the Rust Belt when industries in the past have failed, but instead one where workers in our community are supported through this transition by a worker and community insurance fund with union jobs for all in these new green industries with prevailing wages and benefits,” said Bridge Rauch with Clean Air and Buffalo Transit Riders United.

“Unfortunately, the truth is that we know from the hurricanes, and the squalls, and the Derechos, and the tornadoes, and the flooding that climate change isn’t just real, it’s happening right now. We don’t just have an opportunity to right the wrongs of environmental injustices of the past and continue to this day, we have a mandate that we must succeed for ourselves, and our children, and our children’s children.”

The public hearing started at 3:30 p.m. and goes until 6:30 p.m.

Energy road map calls for sweeping changes for WNY homeowners

April 28, 2022

Matt Glynn Apr 27, 2022

Big changes are looming for how Western New York residents heat their homes and operate their appliances.

A new statewide energy plan being debated would gradually phase out the use of natural gas in homes and buildings, in favor of greater reliance on electricity.

The changes recommended in the Climate Action Plan’s energy road map haven’t been finalized, and would be rolled out in stages. But some of the recommendations would take effect as soon as two years from now.

And they would have a big impact on homeowners and building owners.

• Starting in 2024, newly built homes in the state would not be allowed to install equipment powered by oil, natural gas or propane for heating, cooling and hot water. The plan would instead require homes to install a zero-emission system like a heat pump, which is more energy efficient, but costs more than a conventional heating system.

• Starting in 2030, owners of existing homes would face similar restrictions. Once homeowners need to replace their fossil-fuel powered systems and appliances – whether that happens in 2030 or later – they would need to install a zero-emission system instead.

Those upgrades could cost the owner of an older home upwards of $23,000, depending on the duct work and equipment needed, according to National Fuel estimates. The company also estimates that the annual energy costs at an electrified home could about $650 higher, at current rates.

The energy plan is part of the state’s strategy to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions, while phasing out the use of natural gas, through hitting ambitious targets. The state is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, and 85% by 2050.

Critics say the state’s plan goes too far, too fast, and would burden homeowners by mandating the use of more-expensive heating equipment and fuel sources, like electricity, that cost more than natural gas.

“It’s a pretty radical change to the state’s energy complex,” said David Bauer, president and CEO of National Fuel Gas Co.

Bauer describes the plan as a road map to “electrify everything, at any cost.”

“What it proposes to do is phase out all fossil fuel use and replace it with electricity that’s generated by renewable resources,” he said.

Supporters of the plan, including environmental groups, say the changes are overdue to combat the effects of climate change, and say the switch to clean energy will produce better outcomes in public health and for the environment.

“The damages currently caused by burning fossil fuels cost us billions a year, while the benefits of a just transition would gain us billions,” said Conor Bambrick, director of climate policy for Environmental Advocates NY. “The faster we move to an all-electric future, the faster we will realize the vast economic and health benefits associated with a fossil-free future.”

The public has a chance to weigh in. A hearing is set for 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Mason O. Damon Auditorium of the main branch of Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, at 1 Lafayette Square. The meeting will also be shown on Zoom.

The Climate Action Council is gathering comments through June 10, including through 10 public hearings across the state.

The proposals would have a widespread impact on Western New York, where more than 90% of the homes are heated with natural gas, which has become a more economical heating fuel as production has increased in nearby Pennsylvania, using controversial hydrofracking techniques.

A decade ago, winter heating bills routinely topped $1,000 between November and March. They were expected to average around $700 this winter after falling below $500 during each of the previous two winters, according to National Fuel.

Despite its potentially far-reaching impact, the plan has received little attention since it was released in December.

“I’m in the community a lot,” said Donna DeCarolis, president of National Fuel’s utility business and a member of the 22-person council. “I feel like hardly anybody knows about this.”

Broadly, the plan calls for phasing out natural gas from the state’s energy mix, and for the state to become increasingly reliant on electric power over the next two decades.

National Fuel officials say they are in favor of “decarbonizing” the power grid, but urge the state to take an approach that eases the cost burden on homeowners and lessens the need for additional power generation. 

“We get it that something has to be done,” Bauer said. “But it’s got be done reasonably, affordably and in a way that doesn’t impact energy reliability. To me, now is not the time to start banning natural gas appliances or phasing out the natural gas distribution system.”

Utilities argue that more of an emphasis should be on making homes and businesses more energy efficient, which would reduce harmful emissions by reducing energy consumption.

“If we are successful, that’s a way of eliminating easily a third of the emissions that we’ve got to get rid of in New York state,” said Rudy Wynter, National Grid’s New York president. “About a third of emissions come from burning of fossil fuel and heating homes and businesses.”

Wynter said a lot of the state’s heating load will be increasingly electrified as time goes on, through systems such as heat pumps.

“Having said that, we know you cannot electrify every single building,” due to factors such as building size, type and age, he said.

And Wynter said not every customer can afford to electrify. For that reason, Wynter said, there should be an alternative, in the form of a decarbonized natural gas network that blends renewable natural gas and hydrogen.

National Fuel also is proposing an alternative plan that would include renewable natural gas and hydrogen in the state’s energy mix.

The utility cited an analysis by an engineering firm that said it currently costs $650 a year more to heat a Western New York home with electricity instead of natural gas. Bauer said that cost gap is likely to grow much wider, as electric rates rise in the face of greater demand.

Those cost differences would be acute on the coldest days of the winter months, Bauer said.

“The reality is, we’re a lot colder upstate than downstate, by a meaningful measure,” he said.

Bauer also questioned the plan’s impact on energy reliability, given its greater emphasis on wind and solar power. The plan would also require the state’s power grid to be dramatically scaled up, he said.

Beyond homeowners, Bauer said industrial customers would face much higher energy costs, too.

“This will have a huge impact on the ability to attract or retain any energy-intensive industry to the area,” he said.

New Yorkers for Affordable Energy, a coalition of business, community and labor leaders, says the Climate Action Council should be clearer about the financial impact the plan will have on the average homeowner, once the proposed changes start to take effect.

“As you start to change out those appliances – say your furnace breaks, the cost of reconfiguring your HVAC system, that can be in excess of $25,000 for people, depending on the size of your home and the intricacies of your HVAC system,” said Michelle Hook, executive director of the coalition.

The coalition’s members “are not climate deniers,” Hook said. “We know it exists. But we have to do this transition at a pace people can afford, especially with the recent inflation.”

The debate over the plan’s contents comes amid heightened attention to greenhouse gas emissions, and the most effective way to curb them.

Like National Fuel, National Grid has put forward a plan that relies on different sources of fuel, on the way toward eliminating fossil fuels from its gas and electric systems by 2050.

“Part of the big savings in this plan is, we’re not building another network. We’re utilizing an existing network,” Wynter said.

But Bill Nowak, president of the New York Geothermal Energy Organization, said the heating of homes and buildings is responsible for a high percentage of greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’ve generally had drilled into our heads that gas is a very clean fuel, it’s helping on the climate front,” Nowak said. “And that’s not the case when you take into account the methane emissions.”

If You Go:

The public hearing on the Climate Action Council’s draft plan is scheduled for 3:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Mason O. Damon Auditorium of the main branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, at 1 Lafayette Square. Up to 301 people may attend. 

Advance registration is encouraged but not required. Priority in seating and speaking will be given to those who register in advance.

Too far, or not far enough: Draft NYS climate action plan sparks lively debate

April 27, 2022

By Jacob Fries

New York State recently unveiled its long term plan for addressing climate change and meeting the terms of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019.

What CLCPA looks to do is bring New York state to a carbon neutral economy by 2050. This involves achieving net-zero carbon emissions, growing and overhauling the state’s electricity grid, and, along the way, ensuring that the benefits of such measures are felt in an equitable manner to typically disenfranchised groups, such as impoverished communities and communities of color, which historically have been most adversely affected by environmental problems.

The state Climate Action Council was tasked with mapping the way forward. Its “scoping plan” puts heavy emphasis on transitioning New Yorkers to ZEVs (Zero Emission Vehicles) and creating the infrastructure that’s necessary to sustain them, i.e. a network of electric vehicle charging stations.

One particular measure that’s discussed in the plan is establishment of a “feebate” program, which would offer direct rebates for ZEV purchases, with the money coming from fees imposed on the purchase of new gas-powered vehicles. The fee could be waived on lower priced vehicles. Also, lower to middle income buyers could get higher rebates on ZEV purchases, as well as additional rebates with financing options. The plan also states that incentives for selling ZEVs would be provided to dealerships.

Too much too soon?

The plan indicates that the state’s clean energy policies will help generate a net benefit of up to $120 billion, and create 10 jobs for each one that could be lost from inaction. The plan estimates inaction could cause $90 billion in environmental damages and cause job losses primarily in agriculture.

The 300-plus-page plan, which can be accessed online, has received criticism both from those who feel that it’s too ambitious and runs the risk of alienating the average citizen, and those who feel that it’s not ambitious or expedient enough to address the increasing threats from climate change.

State senate minority leader Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, has voiced his opposition and recently sent out a mailer encouraging his constituents to voice their concerns about it. He argues that the draft of the current plan is written too bureaucratically, and that the plan itself runs the risk of harming the average citizen, particularly in its aim to scale back natural gas usage. The plan would end investment in gas infrastructure and prohibit utilities from providing new gas service to existing buildings.

“New York’s residents are experiencing an energy affordability crisis, surging inflation, rising home heating and electric bills, and severe pain at the pump. Now is not the time to completely rid the state of this dependable energy source,” Ortt said in response to a question about that mailer.

Randy Atwater of Barker, a small business owner and Barker school board member, believes that the plan is applying too much pressure in some areas, and not enough pressure in others. He cites information he received from attending a webinar with New Yorkers for Affordable Energy, an organization that advocates for low energy prices and common-sense environmental reform.

“My concern is that when the state pursues progressive policies more aggressively than anyone else, there can be a backlash to that,” Atwater said. “There can be negative impacts to the business community, and therefore to the entire economic structure of the state if we push too hard and too fast.”

Atwater believes that the goals are shortsighted in the sense that they could drive up the price of electricity exponentially in New York, and that storing energy generated by sun and wind power in industrial batteries can only go so far. This can be an issue in the winter when heating costs are at their highest and solar energy generation is more difficult, he observed.

A glaring omission?

Atwater also finds fault with the absence of any measures in the plan to regulate the mining of cryptocurrency. Crypto mining has drawn criticism from environmentalists due to the process consuming large amounts of electricity as computer run constantly to generate unique blockchain codes. Theoretically if it was being done on a power grid that emits no carbon, crypto mining wouldn’t be as bad. However, considering the state hasn’t made this shift yet, crypto mining poses a danger to the environment.

Katie Marshall, a co-founder of the Rochester hub of the Sunrise Movement, a national youth climate activist group, believes that the state’s plan is strong, but lacking specifics on how the transition will be funded and how equity for marginalized groups will be realized.

“I think that large scale efforts like this are the thing that’s actually going to lead us to a livable future,” said Marshall, “but the plan needs to include specifics of how this shift is going to happen, because it’s a large-scale shift for individuals, businesses, and our economy.”

Marshall agrees that crypto mining should be addressed.

“Even now a lot of people don’t understand the climate impacts … and it should be addressed in the plan along with transportation and building decarbonization. We banned fracking in New York, I don’t see why we can’t ban crypto mining.”

Maureen Leddy, the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s director of the Office of Climate Change, said crypto mining has become a concern for the state’s environmental agenda, but it only came to their attention while the current draft of the climate plan was nearing its completion.

What about the nuclear option?

New York’s climate action plan takes nuclear energy into account, but not to the degree it does wind and solar energy, which occupy most of the discussion of renewable energy. The state has had a Zero Emissions Credit policy for nuclear power since 2016 and it will remain in effect until 2029. 

The issue of nuclear energy is highly debated in environmentalist circles. While nuclear power doesn’t emit greenhouse gases, it has drawbacks related to safety, such as waste and the broader dangers in the event of an accident.

The plan advocates that the analysis must be made by 2029 as to whether nuclear power should be subsidized further, taking into account whether it’s reliable enough, as well as its impacts on health, safety, community and the environment. Three nuclear power plants are operated in New York state and generate almost one-third of its power.

Atwater believes a positive re-evaluation of nuclear energy is in order.

“There’s no free lunch in the energy business. Every form of energy has its risks and its environmental costs,” he said. “If our priority is emissions, then I think we have to look at state of the art nuclear power plants, that with today’s technology would have better controls than Chernobyl (Ukraine) or Fukushima (Japan), or anywhere else there’ve been issues in the past.”

Various ways to weigh in

Currently the state is hosting a public comment period on the climate scoping plan, through which members of the public may share their thoughts with the Climate Action Council.

Public forums are a mix of online and in-person. The nearest in-person forum is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. April 27, at the Mason O. Damon Auditorium  of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo.

Virtual forums will be held at 10 a.m. May 7 and 4 p.m. May 11. To participate, register at

Comments can also submitted online at, emailed to, or mailed to: Draft Scoping Plan Comments, NYSERDA, 17 Columbia Circle, Albany, NY 12203-6399.

The public comment period will close on June 10.

A PDF of the scoping plan can be downloaded at .


March 29, 2022

Six-figure Campaign Will Air in Every Major TV Market in New York State;
Highlights How Energy Bills Will Skyrocket if Albany Lawmakers Current Plans Become Law

Recent Polling Shows Nearly Two-Thirds of New Yorkers Say Electric Bills Are Already Too High & 84% of Residents Support Use of Natural Gas

(Albany, NY) – The New Yorkers for Affordable Energy coalition today launched a statewide ad campaign highlighting the need for Albany to take a rational approach to energy policy – one that will ensure the lights stay on, and energy prices are affordable for all New Yorkers as the state transitions to a low-carbon future. The :30 second television advertisement will air in every major television market in New York, including New York City, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. New Yorkers for Affordable Energy – a coalition of community, labor, business and industry leaders from across the state who support greater access to clean, reliable and affordable sources of energy for residential and business consumers – will continue the campaign for the duration of the 2022 legislative session.

The ad can be found here.

“We know two things for a fact: almost two-thirds of New Yorkers use natural gas in their homes, and the vast majority of all residents in this state have no idea that some lawmakers in Albany are pushing to take that away, which, according to recent projections, will send their energy bills through the roof,” said Michelle Hook, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Affordable Energy. “Advocates are pushing policies that will actually hurt the environment, and while most New Yorkers do support doing what they can to help the environment, we also know they’re concerned about their energy prices and the reliability of our energy grid. Instead of listening to the loudest voices who represent a small minority, Albany lawmakers need to start paying attention to the majority of New Yorkers who want to keep their lights on and heat working through our cold winters.”

Recent polling commissioned by New Yorkers for Affordable Energy showed that New York voters overwhelmingly believe that cost and keeping the lights on are the most important energy issues facing the state, with 92 percent of likely voters saying low-cost energy and reliable electricity are top energy concerns. The 2021 statewide survey of 700 likely New York voters also found that most New Yorkers support natural gas projects in the state. When data was analyzed at the demographic level, the survey found that only 1 in 5 self-identified liberals are opposed to natural gas projects. 

New Yorkers for Affordable Energy is a coalition of community, labor, business and industry leaders from across the state who support greater access to clean, reliable and affordable sources of energy for residential and business consumers. We understand the important role that natural gas plays in our everyday lives, from heating and cooling our homes to powering our communities. As demand for energy continues to grow, New Yorkers for Affordable Energy supports efforts to reduce stateside greenhouse gas emissions. Our coalition believes in a diverse, all-of-the-above approach to New York’s electric grid, and that natural gas can and should be used to facilitate decarbonization. Natural gas is still widely used in manufacturing facilities, power production, transportation, and serves as a catalyst for job growth, supporting New York’s economy and quality of life.


March 8, 2022

New Yorkers for Affordable Energy released the following statement in response to today’s planned “$15 Billion Before It’s Too Late” rally in Albany. The statement should be attributed to Michelle Hook, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Affordable Energy:

“NY Renews is not interested in sound energy policy, or the fact that New Yorkers already pay some of the highest utility bills in the country. Today, they will storm the Capitol to demand $15 billion in the state budget for measures already being addressed by the CLCPA – a law they take credit for passing. At a time when energy costs are spiking, NY Renews also makes no mention of how the state is going to pay for it because they know that cost will ultimately fall on the shoulders of taxpayers. NY Renews’ demands are completely divorced from reality; they don’t care about possible blackouts or rising energy costs, and their proposals directly harm the low-income New Yorkers they claim to represent. It’s time for state lawmakers to take a rational approach to energy policy – one that will ensure the lights stay on, and energy prices stay affordable for all New Yorkers.” 

New Yorkers for Affordable Energy is a coalition of community, labor, business and industry leaders from across the state who support greater access to clean, reliable and affordable sources of energy for residential and business consumers. We understand the important role that natural gas plays in our everyday lives, from heating and cooling our homes to powering our communities. As demand for energy continues to grow, New Yorkers for Affordable Energy supports efforts to increase access to natural gas for manufacturing facilities, power production, transportation, and to serve as a catalyst for job growth and support New York’s economy and quality of life.

Statement from NYAE on Northern Access Pipeline Court Decision

March 25, 2021

A federal court has ruled against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and upheld a federal decision in favor of National Fuel’s long-delayed Northern Access Pipeline’s $500 million natural gas project through Western New York.

New Yorkers for Affordable Energy released this statement in reaction to the court’s decision:    “The high court’s Northern Access decision helps to clear the way for communities across Western New York to reap the economic benefits that come with this $500 million dollar investment in New York’s energy infrastructure. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation clearly exceeded its authority when it delayed a decision to grant the proper permits for the project. This ruling sends a clear message that no state agency is above the law, and politics has no part in functional government.

“The Northern Access Pipeline will inject some much-needed money into the communities of Western New York, including nearly 1,700 jobs, all while adding essential energy infrastructure. Clearing this significant hurdle is a win, not just for the project itself, but for all consumers.”

Buffalo and Niagara County Building & Construction Trades Council also released a statement: “Organized labor is extremely pleased with the court’s decision on Northern Access as the project will result in good paying jobs for union construction trades workers across Western New York. Organized labor strongly supports reducing America’s dependency on foreign energy sources and the construction of infrastructure that safely and reliably delivers clean and reliable energy.  Northern Access will do just that and in turn will help our members who have been significantly impacted by a slowdown of construction work due to the pandemic.”

About New Yorkers for Affordable Energy: New Yorkers for Affordable Energy is a coalition of community, labor, business and industry leaders from across the state who support greater access to clean, reliable and affordable sources of energy for residential and business consumers. We understand the important role that natural gas plays in our everyday lives, from heating and cooling our homes to powering our communities. As demand for energy continues to grow, New Yorkers for Affordable Energy supports efforts to increase access to natural gas for manufacturing facilities, power production, transportation, and to serve as a catalyst for job growth and support New York’s economy and quality of life.

About the Buffalo and Niagara County Building & Construction Trades Council: The Buffalo Building & Construction Trades Council plays a major role in improving the quality of life of not only our members, but the entire WNY community. By ensuring decent wages and benefits for our members, they may provide for themselves and their families, so that we may all take pride in being united by the common goal of a future we can all be proud of.