New York Won’t Allow Cost Of Green Energy Mandates To Appear On Power Bills

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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New York regulators shot down plans to list on utility bills how much extra customers will pay under the state’s new Clean Energy Standard (CES).

Utilities including Con Edison, Orange & Rockland Utilities, National Grid, and Central Hudson Gas & Electric asked to add a line to customers’ bills showing how much CES would cost and allowing them to see where their money is going. However, the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) prevented this at Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s urging.

PSC said that instead of telling customers how much they were paying, utilities would comply with CES “through existing supply mechanisms and bill lines” to “maintain general consistency among the Utilities” and to “limit customer confusion.”

State law requires utilities to only charge rates that the PSC sets, so they had little choice but to comply with the organization’s attempts to hide the standard’s cost. The total cost of the new green standard will be about $360 million during 2017 rising to $500 million the next year.

Cuomo repeatedly pledged to reduce New York’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions with the goal of slowing global warming. The governor created a $5 billion fund to reduce CO2 emissions by spending money on wind and solar power. Ironically, the state will give $360 million to a handful of wind and solar power companies, one of which donated money to Cuomo’s re-election campaign.

Green energy subsidies in New York are worth more than double existing federal subsidies. Federal green energy tax credits are worth $23 per megawatt-hour of power, while state subsidies are valued at up to $47.24 per megawatt-hour.

New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the state’s power grid regulator, sharply criticized Cuomo’s plan to boost state green energy use, saying it could cause blackouts and would make it hard to ensure reliable electricity. NYISO also noted Cuomo’s plan would require the state to triple its installed wind-energy capacity and add more solar panels than the combined capacity of Spain and Australia in just 14 years.

In July, NYISO issued a public comment saying Cuomo’s plans would be hard to execute and could cause blackouts.

Cuomo’s green energy czar responded by saying that NYISO was being “held captive” by special interests and lacks “understanding into the imperative to address climate change.” Cuomo repeatedly pledged to reduce New York’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions with the goal of slowing global warming and directed state regulators in December to come up with a plan to power New York with 50 percent green energy by 2030. The governor created a $5 billion fund to spend money on wind and solar power.

New York state currently gets less than 5 percent of its electricity from wind and solar, according to EIA.

New York is keeping some of its nuclear power plants afloat with subsidies, despite recently forcing one reactor north of Manhattan to shut down. The environmental group Alliance for a Green Economy claims the subsidies will cost New York citizens $7.6 billion, and will be paid by raising power bills for the next 12 years.

Solar and wind power get 326 and 69 times more in subsidies than coal, oil and natural gas for the comparative amount of energy generated, according to 2013 Department of Energy data collected by Forbes. Green energy in the U.S. got $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for conventional sources and $1.7 billion for nuclear energy according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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