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Water works: De Blasio doubles down on renewable energy for NYC by 2025

Mayor Bill de Blasio continued his and others’ support to reject harmful environmental proposals, like the Astoria Generating Company (AGC) that wants to redevelop the dinosaur Gowanus power plant in Brooklyn. He advocated for hydro power and renewable energy projects this Tuesday morning in his daily briefing.

“We have to make sure that the two proposed power plants in Astoria and Gowanus do not come online. They use fracked natural gas and that’s a danger to all of us,” said de Blasio. “They cannot come online and we need to fight to stop it.”

De Blasio signed a letter of intent on April 19 that details the city entering into a “joint purchase” with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) of “large-scale renewable sources of electricity” for the city, which could include Canadian hydropower among other resources. 

At this time, the state’s transmission network for “in-city” energy generation is considered congested, making it difficult to bring clean energy to the city. An issue that’s been exacerbated by the shutting down of Indian Point nuclear power plant upstate in Buchanan, NY, which is about 25 miles away from New York City, reported the New York Times.

The race is on to find more fuel, hopefully clean fuel, for the city — and soon.

De Blasio said Tuesday the letter essentially is a formal commitment to long-term purchasing of more Clean Energy Standard Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs. 

RECs are how agencies account for, track, and assign ownership to the “physical” renewable electricity generated through a utility grid, said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The city wants to buy a sufficient amount of RECs to eventually get 100% of its energy needs from renewable resources by 2025, said de Blasio.

“This is crucial to our future, to environmental justice, to our health,” said de Blasio.

“With this commitment to vastly increase the supply of renewable electricity to New York City, we will clean our air, correct injustice, and race towards a future beyond fossil fuels,” added Director of Climate and Sustainability for the Mayor Ben Furnas, in a statement. 

The city and state at least seem aligned in their goal to end the age of fossil fuels and “polluting energy infrastructure” that is largely concentrated in low-come, communities of color, and neighborhoods long-focused on environmental injustices. 

Doreen M. Harris, president and CEO of NYSERDA, said that the state’s response to build renewable energy and buy more RECs in the city is called the NYSERDA’s Tier 4 solicitation.

Harris said this part of the program is designed to “increase the amount of renewable energy delivered into New York City and direct significant benefits to those in the state’s most disadvantaged communities.” 

“We welcome the opportunity to share in the cost-effective procurement that will be realized due to the substantial level of competitive interest seen by the initial private sector response,” said Harris in a statement. “We appreciate the City’s focus to align with the state’s work in reducing carbon emissions from its operations and recognizing the important value a joint purchase would bring to all New Yorkers.”

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