New York State Just Made You a Green Energy Purchaser

If you live in the State of New York, you just became a purchaser of green energy. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), whose stated goal is to “advance innovative energy solutions in ways that improve New York’s economy and environment,” has teamed up with the state to institute the Clean Energy Standard (CES) Program. CES requires 50% of electricity consumed in New York to come from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, by 2030.

In order to accomplish this goal, CES mandates that all load serving entities (ESCOs and Utilities) in New York procure Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) for all of their customers.

What is a REC?

If this sounds familiar, it’s because that’s how most energy suppliers have been offering “green energy” to their customers as an option. So essentially, if you live in New York, you are now involuntarily participating in this program. This is good news for renewable energy developers, as this will massively increase both the volume of RECs being purchased and more importantly, the reliability of those purchases. How this will ultimately impact overall investment and development of renewables will have to be observed over time, but many of the core issues surrounding the voluntary REC market are being addressed.

CES also requires load serving entities to procure Zero Emissions Credits (ZECs) for all of their customers. ZECs are similar to RECs, but can also be applied to non-renewable energy sources as long as they do not produce greenhouse gas emissions. The most prominent example of a ZEC-eligible power source is nuclear energy.

So what does this mean for you? You may see a slight increase in your power bill, depending on how your ESCO or Utility decides to handle the additional cost. If you’re already a “green” customer of an ESCO, you may still receive an increase to cover the ZEC requirement. However, the costs are relatively small (perhaps 5%).

It should be noted that you can still decrease your impact most directly by becoming more energy efficient, using less power, changing your lifestyle, and participating in a carbon offset energy program. There is still a lot of progress to be made to help New York meet its renewable energy goals, which will help keep the state at the forefront of innovation, job creation, environmental protection, and public health.