Updated: Apr 26, 2022
Think globally, act locally. A relevant saying every day, and especially relevant on Earth Day.
So on this Earth Day, I wanted to get a better understanding of how New York uses electricity and how the transition to renewables is going.
New York consumes around 143.2 TWh of electricity per year (FYI: America consumes around 4,000 TWH). The mixture of New York’s electricity supply is 40% Natural Gas, 22% Nuclear, 10% Petroleum, 28% renewables.
The state has set an aggressive goal, calling for 70% of the state’s electricity supply to be generated from renewables by 2030.
This means that as more drivers shift to electric vehicles, and more homes are electrified, the percentage of electricity sourced from renewable sources will nearly triple over the next 8 years, going from 28% renewables to 70% renewables.
Getting there is a challenging undertaking. Most of New York’s land is situated in rural areas, while most of the population lives in the metro NYC area, where the greatest amount of electricity is used.
Some of the easiest decisions have already been made. This includes completely getting rid of coal powered plants. Something a bunch of states still haven’t accomplished. The hard part is looking to the future, while managing for today.
Take the decision to close the Indian Point Power Plant, 30 miles north of midtown NYC. The plant is an eye-soar, sitting right on one of the most beautiful parts of the Hudson River. But, it’s been in use for decades and was incredibly efficient, right up until its closure.
Indian Point produced electricity for around 2 million New York households. That’s almost a quarter of the 7.5 million households in New York. It provided 13% of the state’s electricity demand and nearly a third of the electricity needed across the metro New York city area. Replacing the electricity supply for this many households is a big undertaking.
To put this in perspective, recognize that all the off-shore wind projects in development are projected to provide enough electricity for 2.4 Million Households. However, these projects will not be fully operational until next decade.
While the massive Champlain Hudson Power Express Project and Clean Path NY Projects will provide electricity to around 1.5M homes. These projects were both green-lighted this month, but they require the building out of hundreds of miles in transmission lines, which takes years.
The closure of Indian Point and the build-out of the renewable projects shows how complicated energy policy is.
The practical decision would have been to keep Indian Point up and running for a few more years. This would have given the state a cushion to avoid the surge in electricity pricing that it's currently experiences, as it competes with other states to buy natural gas.