Leibowitz: New York poised to lead on renewables

Top of the heap: New York State could be renewable energy's king of the hill, according to one environmental watchdog.
By HEATHER LEIBOWITZ, ESQ. //

Ten years of progress has positioned New York to take renewable energy to the next level.

Since 2007, New York has seen a 6,548 percent increase in the amount of electricity it gets from the sun and a 473 percent increase in wind-power production, according to a new report released by Environment New York Research & Policy Center.

Co-authored by The Frontier Group, the report also highlights advances in the use of energy storage and electric vehicles that will help catalyze the clean-energy revolution in New York, which currently ranks ninth among states for improvements in electricity energy-efficiency programs.

Every day, we see more evidence that an economy powered by renewable energy is within our reach. The progress we’ve made in the last decade on renewable energy and technologies like battery storage and electric cars should give New Yorkers the confidence that we can take clean energy to the next level.

Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future provides a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key technologies needed to provide the nation with clean, renewable energy, including electric cars, wind and solar power and new systems for energy efficiency and storage.

Overall, New York ranked 16th for wind, ninth for solar and fourth for the number of electric vehicles sold. The state has seen significant progress on clean energy and has been a notable leader.

But in order to ensure a healthy future for our kids, we need to continue to pave the way forward by transitioning New York as quickly as possible to a future powered by renewable energy. The report describes the factors that contributed to rapid growth in each category since 2007, including policies, improved technologies and lower costs, all of which suggest the potential for continued rapid growth in the years to come.

Heather Leibowitz: New York is up there.

The report also comes as a growing number of U.S. cities, states, corporations and institutions consider commitments to 100 percent renewable energy. Currently, 37 national cities have committed to achieving 100 percent renewable energy, including Ithaca and the Town of East Hampton.

Nearly 100 major companies have made a 100 percent renewable commitment, including Apple, Walmart and LEGO, while Hawaii is committed to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045 and California and Massachusetts are currently considering legislation. Bills have been introduced in both houses of Congress.

We’ve build a good foundation with initiatives including the Clean Energy Standard and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. But now we need to build on that foundation and do even more.

The reality is inescapable: Fossil fuels pollute our air, water and land, threaten our health and change our climate even faster than scientists predicted. We need to seize the moment and lean into a future powered by clean, renewable energy.

Ms. Leibowitz is the director of Environment New York, a statewide advocacy organization. 


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