What Is The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA)?

New York’s climate change law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), enacted in 2019, sets out goals for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the conversion of the state’s electrical grid to renewable sources.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Goals

  • 2030: 60% of 1990 emissions
  • 2050: 15% of 1990 emissions

Goals For Renewable Energy

  • 2030: 70% of electric power must be from renewables
  • 2040: 100% of electric power must be from renewables

By 2035, the CLCPA requires the establishment of 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind, 6,000 megawatts of photovoltaic solar generation; and 3,000 megawatts of energy storage. The law also addresses other sectors including transportation, building heating and cooling emissions standards, appliance efficiency and nuclear power plant phaseouts.

What Will Be The Effect of CLCPA On Solar, Storage, Transportation And Buildings?

There are approximately 1,500 megawatts of solar capacity today including a substantial rooftop solar industry and several commercial farms. Additional storage capacity is required to provide energy when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. Current storage capacity is extremely limited today, roughly .039 GW.

Transportation accounts for 33% of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. CLCPA requirements to reduce transportation emissions will likely result in the replacement of gas passenger cars with electric vehicles as well as siginificant growth in EV charging infrastructure. We also expect upgrades and additions to mass transit and policies encouraging their use.

Natural gas and oil used for heating and cooling of buildings makes up about 25% of New York’s energy usage. About 40% of electric power comes from natural gas today. It is likely these plants will phase out under stricter emissions standards and regulation

CLCPA also requires the establishment of appliance efficiency standards, strengthening building energy codes etc.

What Does CLCPA Say About Offshore Wind?

The CLCPA requires a significant investment in offshore wind. The legislation calls for 9,000 MW by 2035. That is roughly the output of nine typical nuclear power plants. If we do some back of the envelope calculations and estimate that each wind turbine would provide 10 MW of capacity, that would require 900 turbines. Presently, there are zero offshore wind turbines in New York State.

What actions have been taken towards this goal? In late 2019, the New York State Energy and Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) finalized contracts for the first two offshore wind projects. Then, in 2020, NYSERDA issued a second round of offshore wind solicitation seeking up to 2,500 MW of projects. New York’s combined clean energy solicitation is now up to 4,000 MW of offshore wind renewable energy capacity, just under 50% of CLCPA’s requirement of 9,000 MW.

Offshore Wind Project Development

There are currently three major offshore wind projects proceeding in New York. Project developers include Equinor, a Norwegian energy company, as well as U.S. affiliates of Ørsted, a Danish energy company that currently operates the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm. Both firms have substantial experience in Europe in the development of offshore wind.

Presently, there are only five offshore wind turbines operating in the Northeast US.

Current New York Offshore Wind Projects

Map of sunrise and empire offshore wind sites

This map shows the lease areas of two awarded projects: Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind

South Fork Wind

South Fork Wind is a 130 megawatt project located thirty five miles offshore from Montauk being developed by Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind and Eversource Energy (an energy service provider in the Northeast). This project is contracted to begin operation in December 2022.

Sunrise Wind

Sunrise Wind is an 880 megawatt project proposed to be located thirty miles off the coast of Long Island, and southeast of the South Fork Wind Farm. It is being developed by Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind and Eversource Energy and is expected to be commissioned in 2024.

Empire Wind

Empire Wind is an 816 megawatt project located approximately fourteen miles from Jones Beach State Park. It is being developed by Equinor in partnership with BP who agreed to pay $1.1 billion for a 50% stake in Equinor’s two offshore projects, Empire Wind and Beacon Wind (a project off southern New England). The expected commissioning date is 2024

Recently Submitted Offshore Wind Proposals

Map of available offshore wind sites in New York

Map of the northeast US coast and Long Island Sound showing eligible sites for solicitation

Equinor has submitted two additional proposals, Empire Wind Phase 2, an 800 MW installation fifteen to thirty miles southeast of Long Island, and Beacon Wind, a 1230 MW project located approximately twenty miles south of MA and sixty miles east of New York. These two projects have the potential to power over one million homes and generate over 3,000 new jobs.

Iberdrola, a parent company of Avangrid Renewables, a 50% owner of Vineyard Wind, has submitted The Liberty Wind Project, a 1,300 MW project to be located eighty four miles east of Montauk Point. Iberdrola proposes to utilize a 1 x 1 nautical mile space recently endorsed by the US Coast Guard for safe navigation and transit.

All proposed offshore wind projects remain dependent on obtaining the necessary federal permits from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

Common Obstacles To Offshore Wind Projects

There are numerous common obstacles to offshore wind projects. First among them are concerns about impacts to fish and wildlife and their ecosystems. But research shows that wind projects actually rank near the bottom of the list of developments that negatively impact wildlife and the environment and studies show that offshore turbines and other renewable energy structures can have beneficial impacts on seafloor habitats and fish communities.

In fact, the Block Island Wind Farm has proven beneficial to fishermen as a new habitat, formed of artificial reefs around the turbine bases, has created an abundance of fish and boosted the local economy with increased fishing and general boat tours around the turbines.

Concerns are also raised about project costs and the effect on electricity rates, especially since the intermittent nature of wind means supply will be weakest when demand peaks in the summer, and strongest when demand lessens in the winter. However, it is expected that these issues and the costs of offshore wind should diminish with increased and enhanced storage capacity and overall technological advances in these industries. NYSERDA estimates that residential customers will see an increase of less than one dollar per month in their monthly bill.

Lastly, classic nimbyism is always a problem for projects like these. Development of the South Fork Wind project hit a snag when local residents were outraged by the location to land the cable in the developers’ plan. In addition, some locals express concerns about the esthetics of wind turbines, even those far enough out from land to be barely visible to the naked eye.

The Benefits Of Offshore Wind In New York

Offshore wind projects are poised to create thousands of jobs in project development, component manufacturing, installation, and operations and maintenance. In addition, Equinor has proposed America’s first offshore wind tower manufacturing facility in upstate NY which would create about 350 direct jobs.

These projects will have great benefits to the environment and public health, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.