Dear Governor Cuomo:
We the undersigned electricity consumers in New York urge you to ensure we have the option to buy 100% renewable energy in order to move New York toward more aggressive action to address climate change and nuclear contamination. The recently adopted “Clean Energy Standard” policy, while moving New York toward its commitment of 50% renewable energy by 2030, forces those who are opposed to nuclear power to pay subsidies to prevent the closure of uneconomical, dirty and dangerous nuclear reactors. The policy also creates a situation in which those who invest in 100% renewable energy could end up seeing their investment compensate for lower renewable energy obligations from utilities, rather than contributing to additional renewable energy beyond the state’s targets.
New Yorkers should not be forced to buy nuclear power or to contribute to the recently approved subsidies for New York’s dangerous and dirty nuclear reactors, and purchasing 100% local renewables can eliminate fossil fuels more quickly than the state’s 2030 greenhouse gas goals provide for. We ask for the right to use our buying power to push our state faster to a carbon-free and nuclear-free energy system.
We understand it is your intention is to allow for this. On August 1, 2016, then Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman stated on the record that as part of the new Clean Energy Standard order, the agency would explore creating an option to give consumers the choice to buy certified “100% New York Green” energy:
“We are going to look at and have asked staff to look at the development of a product that is 100% renewable, 100% produced in New York, and 100% committed to helping us beat our goal. And if it does that, then I think it's fair to say to those customers, if you truly don't want to buy nuclear, we will allow you not to be required to contribute to that program... We are asking staff to look at that and we will see how we can make that happen.”
We applaud this statement. But the accompanying order from the Public Service Commission is vague on the details, does not mandate this action, and does not state explicitly that New Yorkers buying 100% renewables would be exempt from paying nuclear subsidies. We wish to express our support for the creation of the 100% New York Green energy option and we urge you to implement this choice as soon as possible.
Further, for this to be a meaningful option, it is necessary that when customers choose the 100% New York Green energy option that their obligations to buy nuclear “zero emissions credits” (ZECs) are not simply shifted to other customers, but instead are retired, thereby reducing the total amount of the subsidies available for nuclear operators. Similarly, it is important that customers’ choice to buy additional renewable energy above and beyond the Clean Energy Standard targets not be used by utilities to reduce their own obligations to meet the 50% renewable energy targets through their own purchases.
We very much appreciate the intention behind former Chair Zibelman’s words, and we are eager to take advantage of the option to choose 100% New York Green energy. We hope you will work swiftly to make this promise a reality.