New York governor Andrew Cuomo has advanced a 30-day budget amendment to speed up permitting and construction of renewable energy projects to fight climate change.
The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act will create a Renewable Energy Permitting office with the aim to improve the process for environmentally conscious energy projects.
Governor Cuomo said: “This legislation will help achieve a more sustainable future, invigorating the green economy and reaffirming New York’s position as a market leader with a revamped process for building and delivering renewable energy projects faster.”
The amendment is part of Cuomo’s climate goals – as highlighted in the July 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act – to obtain 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2040.
The state’s existing energy generation siting process is outdated, as it was designed for fossil-fuel plants and created prior to clean energy goals. Cuomo’s amendments will improve the standards and speed up the process, as wells as setting renewable energy at the centre of New York’s economic future.
The American Council on Renewable Energy CEO and president Gregory Wetstone said: “Streamlining the construction of renewables and the transmission that unlocks them are both needed and welcome developments.
“The renewable sector is encouraged by Governor Cuomo’s announcement and we look forward to working with state officials on ways to accelerate the transition to renewable power that’s central to New York’s clean energy and climate goals.”
According to the act, the Office of Renewable Energy Permitting will ensure permitting decisions are delivered in time, using siting standards reflective of environmental impacts in renewable projects and making sure that complete applications are acted upon within a year.
Governor Cuomo will also institute an incentives programme aimed at ensuring that renewable energy developments are targeted by advancing build-ready projects and prioritising the development of existing or abandoned sites. Build-ready property owners will also get incentives to host renewable energy facilities.
The amendment is part of New York State’s implementation of the Green New Deal, a proposed legislation aiming to fight climate change proposed in 2018. Cuomo’s Green New Deal includes investing $2.9bn in renewable projects, committing to develop 1.7MW of offshore wind and a 1,700% growth in the solar sector since 2012.
“Climate change is the existential challenge of our time, and New York State has risen to the occasion by enacting the strongest laws in the nation to protect and preserve our environment,” Cuomo added.