It’s nice to learn that, more than two years after passing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York State is starting to think about how to implement its ambitious goals (Climate Plans Coming into Focus, Jan. 7).
But while the state and planet convulse from one climate disaster after another, we’re not even close to being on track. Just 6 percent of our energy is generated by wind and solar, risibly short of the 70 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040 mandated under the law. In her State of the State address on Jan. 5, Gov. Kathy Hochul sounded the right notes but did not propose anything remotely on the scale of what’s needed to combat the greatest existential threat of our time.
The reality is that we are not going to innovate or incentivize our way out of this crisis. We need to rapidly and fundamentally change the way we generate, transmit and distribute energy, and the fastest way to decarbonize the state’s energy system is to bring more of it under public ownership and democratic control.
The NYS Build Public Renewables Act would move us in that direction by empowering the New York Power Authority, created under Franklin D. Roosevelt, to build utility-scale renewable energy generation and transmission infrastructure, essentially creating a “public option” that would supply 100 percent renewable energy to all state and municipal properties, selling the surplus directly to New York customers.
The Build Public Renewables Act is revenue-neutral and, by one estimate, would create 50,000 jobs. More importantly, it would give the state the resources and authority it needs to meet its own climate mandates and move us away from fossil fuels, which the market has utterly failed to do.
We need to move fast and think big to meet this generational challenge. New York can become a model for the rest of the country. Please urge our legislators and the governor to pass the BPRA this year.
Jeff Mikkelson, Cold Spring
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