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New York’s Clean Energy Standard Is Merely Virtue Signaling

New York’s Clean Energy Standard Is Merely Virtue Signaling thumbnail

New York State’s Clean Energy Standard Is but symbolic environmentalism accomplishing almost nothing with respect to emissions or the welfare of New Yorkers.

A recent report evaluated New York State’s clean energy programs and found them costing the state’s consumers and businesses over $1 trillion with no measurable impact on world climate. Thus, the carbon dioxide reductions that would cost the state’s residents heavily would have no value. This is nothing new; New York finds numerous ways to tax its people with little benefit to show for it.

Clean Energy Standard

Planned for an Upstate New York hilltop near you?

New York’s Clean Energy Programs

In 2016, the New York Public Service Commission enacted the Clean Energy Standard (CES), requiring 50 percent of all electricity sold by the state’s utilities to come from renewable generating resources and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to be reduced by 40 percent below 1990 levels—both by 2030. The standard also incorporates New York’s previous emissions reduction mandate, requiring that the state’s greenhouse gas emissions be reduced 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 (the “80 by 50” mandate).

In 2016, the New York Public Service Commission established the Clean Energy Fund, which requires electric consumers to pay for programs that are designed to reduce energy use in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings by about 25 percent below current levels by 2030. That energy reduction would be about 600 trillion BTUs.

According to a report issued by New York’s Department of Public Service, the 2030 Clean Energy Standard will increase New Yorkers’ electric bills by $3.6 billion. The analysis claims that the Clean Energy Standard will provide about $8 billion in benefits from reducing carbon dioxide emissions, will increase gross state product and will create jobs.

As part of the CES, in January 2017, N.Y.’s Governor Cuomo issued an executive order requiring 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030. Then, in March 2017, also as part of the CES, he announced the Drive Green program, which will provide a rebate on electric vehicles of up to $2,000, depending on the vehicle. The goal is to have 700,000 electric vehicles, including hybrids on the road by 2025. Cuomo allocated $70 million for the program of which $55 million will cover the subsidies and $15 million will cover advertising, promotional activities and construction of charging stations.

Analysis Findings

Jonathan A. Lesser of Continental Economics, analyzed the feasibility and cost of New York’s Clean Energy programs. Mr. Lesser calculated what the reductions would entail for both 2030 and 2050. These reductions are shown in the figure below. In 2030, New York would only be able to release 141.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, of which 123.46 million metric tons are carbon dioxide. In 2050, New York could only release 47.17 million tons of greenhouse gases, of which 41.15 million metric tons would be carbon dioxide.

That means in 2030, New York would have to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 57.52 million metric tons from 2014 levels—50 percent more than the state’s electric generating sector and its imported electricity released in 2014. Thus, other sectors would need to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 to reach the target.

In 2050, New York’s carbon dioxide emissions would need to be reduced by about 140 million metric tons from 2014 levels—almost twice what its transportation sector released in 2014. That probably would require massive reductions in all energy-consuming sectors, meaning that New York would need to electrify its energy consuming sectors.

The requirements would result in renewables replacing existing fossil fuel generating technologies, increasing the electrical cost to consumers. According to Mr. Lesser, constructing 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind capacity and 7,300 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity by 2030 could result in New Yorkers paying over $18 billion in above-market costs for their electricity. By 2050, the above-market costs could increase to $93 billion. The construction of at least 1,000 miles of new high-voltage transmission facilities to move electricity from upstate wind and solar farms to downstate consumers would also be required.

New York has yet to analyze the feasibility of its 80 by 50 mandate. But, as noted above, it would require the electrification of New York in all or most of its energy-consuming sectors. New York’s transportation sector releases about half of the carbon dioxide emissions needed for the reductions. But, since total electrification of the transportation sector is infeasible with existing technology, the mandate will require reducing residential, commercial, and industrial carbon dioxide emissions and constructing new renewable generating capacity to replace existing generation that must be retired and to meet new electrical demand coming from the other sectors.

According to the Mr. Lesser, the 80 by 50 mandate would require 400 terawatt hours of renewable electricity. That is, the construction of at least 100,000 megawatts of offshore wind, or 150,000 megawatts of onshore wind, or 300,000 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity by 2050. That new capacity will need to deal with issues such as fishing rights in the Atlantic off Long Island, “not in my backyard” problems in upstate New York where onshore wind and solar capacity would be located and large land mass requirements.

For example, utility scale solar PV requires about 8 acres per megawatt. Meeting the CES mandate with utility scale solar would require an area of between 2.4 million and 3.0 million acres—between 3,800 and 4,600 square miles. By comparison, Manhattan is 22 square miles. So enough solar PV to meet the CES mandate would require 172 Manhattan islands.

Clean Energy Standard

Trees or solar panels?

Due to the intermittency of wind and solar power, at least 200,000 megawatts of battery storage would be required as well. To meet the mandate, it would cost New York consumers and businesses over $1 trillion by 2050.

Because New York’s greenhouse gas emission reductions under the Clean Energy Program would be small compared to total worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, the benefits of the reductions would effectively be zero. That is, the temperature changes would be too small to measure and not able to be separated from natural climate variability.


The report found New York’s Clean Energy Standard to be “an exercise in symbolic environmentalism. It will provide almost no measurable benefits, while imposing huge costs, including disproportionate costs on lower-income residents.”

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10 Comments on "New York’s Clean Energy Standard Is Merely Virtue Signaling"

  1. Fred on Sun, 8th Oct 2017 2:32 pm 

    There are always a few things not discussed in these alt energy critical articles. One is the alternative path the author suggests we should take. BAU? More interesting would be to discuss the option of reducing our consumption and not requiring the current amount of power (in whatever form) being available to society.

    Renewables make sense but only coupled with a very concious use of significantly less power. Believe it or not but we can live without 24/7/365 power. But perhaps not if you’re living in a desert. If you do live in a desert, perhaps you should ask yourself the question whether that’s a sustainable place to live instead of debating whether or not renewables could make you continue to live in an unsustaibable place (green BAU is still as unsustainable as BAU).

    Do we really need to move all those bodies from A to B and back every day? Fly to “somewhere nice” on a whim? Visit my friend who lives 3000 miles away for the weekend? Should we produce all that crap that is designed to break and transport it all over the planet? Really?

    It’s time we start having a serious look at our incredibly stupid way of living on this beautiful planet and act before all the living is converted in the dead.

    The good news? You can start making changes today. No need to wait for our “leaders” or someone else to do it.

  2. Anonymouse1 on Sun, 8th Oct 2017 2:46 pm 

    This completely unbiased, and ‘objective’ article brought to you by…….

    ‘Natural Gas Now’. – Natural gas, its the ‘bridge fuel to the clean energy future(tm).


    This Natural Gas Now blog is intended to promote responsible natural gas development as a vehicle to achieve American energy independence, promote rural economic development and, thereby, give farmers and other landowners the basis for keeping their land in its farm, forest or other open space uses.

    No other land use has the capability of producing so much economic return with so little disturbance to the land. The picture below of a fresh water storage pond in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania that allows the development of several well pads nearby without trucking of the water to individual sites, serves to illustrate.

    Natgas sounds awesome, I bet you cant wait to have a frak-gas pad built next to your school, home, work, or office. Especially after looking at that un-related picture of that perfect looking lake in the woods.

  3. Keith McClary on Sun, 8th Oct 2017 3:44 pm 

    “Because New York’s greenhouse gas emission reductions under the Clean Energy Program would be small compared to total worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, the benefits of the reductions would effectively be zero. That is, the temperature changes would be too small to measure and not able to be separated from natural climate variability.”

    Hey, they stole that argument from the Tar Sands”!

  4. Outcast_Searcher on Mon, 9th Oct 2017 1:07 am 

    When I started reading this, I thought “This sounds like the typical AGW denier stuff”. And then I see it’s being put out by folks pusing natural gas.

    Could the bias be any more obvious?

    For the other side of the cost argument re batteries and solar, see Tony Seba’s work.

    Given the past real world cost and growth trends re solar, and recent progress and volume trends re batteries, Tony Seba’s work looks far more accurate.

    Who do these clowns think they’re kidding?

  5. Theedrich on Mon, 9th Oct 2017 3:20 am 

    Gee, the NY wonderworkers are so saintly!  Now we can have everything that Bernie promised and more.  BAU to infinity and beyond.  The magic proposed by Sörös, Marx and Lenin is unfolding before our eyes.  The batteries will be charged by energy sources too cheap to measure, and the politicoes in Manhattan and Albany will be the envy of the world.  Maybe they can even install their perpetual-motion generators in Puerto Rico to bring its denizens up to Big Apple speed.

  6. makati1 on Mon, 9th Oct 2017 3:51 am 

    Great sarcasm, Theedrich. ^_^

  7. Davy on Mon, 9th Oct 2017 5:37 am 

    look what you got mad cat, duerte ^_^

  8. Apneaman on Mon, 9th Oct 2017 1:41 pm 

    Virtue Signaling

    Funny how the anti intellectual American conservatard crowd will not hesitate to use the terminology of science and academia if they think it will serve their propaganda purpose.

    The hypothesis or theory of virtue signaling originates from evolutionary biology and has been adopted by other fields of social science including the pseudoscience known as economics.

    The biologist who proposed it in 1970’s is an Israeli Jew, so all you Jew hating creationist Jesus freaks are using the atheist language of Jew academia.

    Many probably know one of the best examples of signaling (fitness) as the Peacock feathers and those fish emblems American pseudo Christians stick on the back of their cars is virtue signaling of the highest order.

    It strange how conservatards all of a sudden, within the last year or so, just happened to all get interested in evolutionary theory at the exact same time and started throwing around the terminology. I mean why else would “Virtue Signaling” start appearing in rightwing, pro industry, pro retard articles, blogs and comments if not for that? What else could it possibly be? I’ve also noted that almost 15% of the morons (e.g. clog) who throw it around actually know what it means.

    What strange bedfellows these alt right atheists and mainstream Jesus cult conservatives make eh? If the hardcore authoritarianism had all the power/won, I wonder if the alt right realize they would be next on the hit list? I wonder if they know that the only thing the Jesus blood cult disciples hate more than Muslims is atheists?

  9. Cloggie on Mon, 9th Oct 2017 2:22 pm 

    “The biologist who proposed it in 1970’s is an Israeli Jew”

    Otherwise you would not refer to him, tribal monkey.

  10. Anonymouse1 on Mon, 9th Oct 2017 8:00 pm 

    Cloggen-tard may not know the difference between energy, and energy storage devices, but I can assure, he can probably quote you every single verse from his torah.

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