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New York Renewable Energy
Inspire Clean Energy
8 min read
category: Sustainable Living
Energy is a big deal in a state with almost 20 million residents. With few natural resources of fossil fuels available, New York has always relied on out-of-state supplies, and some 75% of its energy requirement is sourced in this way. But this is set to change. Renewable energy offers much greater scope for home-produced electricity to come on stream, which will help the state both economically and environmentally.
Renewable energy in New York today
The thrust toward renewable energy has accelerated in recent years as the dangers of relying on fossil fuel energy are realized. Climate change is a real threat, and burning coal, natural gas, and crude oil is a major contributor. Apart from the carbon emissions, generating electricity from these traditional sources also creates pollution in the form of particulates and harmful substances released into the atmosphere.
Climate change and pollution are not the whole story either; fossil fuels are a finite resource and are beginning to run out. There is the very real possibility that in the next 75-150 years, there simply won’t be enough reserves left to power the world1. And as the resources dwindle, energy will become more expensive to produce.
This triple whammy of climate change, pollution, and lack of resources has spurred interest in renewable, clean energy generation. New York is ideally placed to capitalize on this fundamental change in energy production. It may lack fossil fuels, but it is well set to expand its renewable energy generation.
According to the New York Farm Bureau, nearly 25% of the state is farmland (that’s around seven million acres)2. Farmland is ideal for the siting of wind farms and growing crops for biomass. The potential is huge. This land, mostly in the state's western and central areas, is ripe for a major expansion of wind energy electricity production. Wind turbines have become a major source of renewable energy globally, and New York can use the latest technology to vastly increase the contribution of wind power to its energy requirements.
Biomass is a relatively new player in renewable energy but is rapidly becoming a major part of the equation. Crops grown specifically for biomass and biofuels could become an important part of the state’s energy production.
Along with wind power, solar energy is a fast-growing renewable source. The newest photovoltaic panels are extremely efficient in producing energy from the light of the sun, and the possibilities in New York are massive. Large-scale projects are already in place with many more planned, and the opportunities for small-scale arrays are endless.
What percentage of renewable energy is used in NY?
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that 30% of New York’s net electricity generation comes from utility-scale renewable resources3. Much of this comes from hydroelectric sources – the 2.4 gigawatt Robert Moses Niagara power plant is the country’s third-largest – but other renewables are making a growing contribution.
Wind turbines are the second most important source, and New York now has a 200-megawatt utility-scale capacity. This is set to increase exponentially in the next 10-15 years as large offshore projects come online, adding something like 9,000 MW to the grid.
Adding a little under 2% to the total, biomass electricity production is in its early stages, but New York is in the top 10 or 12 states in this technology.
There are also utility-scale solar projects, although none are bigger than the 32 MW Long Island Solar Farm, but, at the moment, small-scale solar power production is an area that is being pushed. The NY-Sun Program is part of the drive toward 3,000 MW of solar capacity by 2023. In 2019, New York State was the fifth in the country in the amount of electricity produced by small-scale arrays.
The state's current Clean Energy Standard requires that electricity suppliers source 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2040. There should be net-zero carbon emissions ten years later. It’s important to note that these targets include nuclear power plants as a renewable source, an idea not universally supported.
Where does New York get its energy?
There are hundreds of power plants, mostly privately owned, that provide electricity to New York’s grid. They vary enormously in capacity, efficiency, and energy source.
Coal, once the mainstay, is on its way out. Many of the plants that relied on this fossil fuel have been converted to natural gas, and the remaining sites are expected to do the same. The cheapness of natural gas has accelerated this change.
Plants using natural gas account for the biggest share of electricity production in the state, some 44% of the total. Together with nuclear (30%) and hydro (18%), these three make up some 92% of electricity needs, with the rest coming from coal and other renewables. With so few fossil fuels in New York, around three-quarters of the raw materials have to be bought in from elsewhere.
At this point, renewables only contribute around half of the electricity consumed in New York, including nuclear power. Nuclear energy is not universally liked. Apart from the dangers of nuclear catastrophes like Chernobyl and Fukushima, the chronic problem of the nuclear waste produced is that it remains toxic for hundreds of years and needs 100% security to prevent it from becoming a problem.
But globally, the balance is changing rapidly, with the aid of government grants and subsidies. The same is true in New York, where the federal machine is acutely aware of the need to break away from fossil fuels and embrace renewable technologies. Natural gas might be a mainstay today, but it won’t be tomorrow.
How much electricity does New York City use in a year?
The EDA estimates the State of New York consumes 143.2 TWh of electricity, 4% of the national total. Of this, the Big Apple takes about two-thirds; after all, it is the most populated city in the country, with a metro area population of over 18 million. However, it is estimated that New York is one of the most energy-efficient states, and New Yorkers are some of the lowest per capita consumers of electricity.
Not all this electricity can be generated within the state and sometimes has to be drawn from neighboring states and Canada. This is the only way at the moment that can guarantee supplies 24/7. Managing the grid is a demanding task that is entrusted to the New York Independent System Operator. NYISO has to balance demand with availability and cost to make sure enough electricity is produced while not overloading the 11,124 miles of high-voltage lines that crisscross the state and city of New York.
Electricity is not the only energy source, of course. For instance, only one in eight households use electricity for heating.
What are the best renewable energy companies in New York?
The New York energy market was deregulated in 1998. This makes it one of the 31 states that allow its consumers to choose who provides their electricity. ConEd is still the only utility company, but that just means they are responsible for grid maintenance and electricity supply. The electric company you choose is who you buy your electricity from.
This means the consumer can shop around to get the best deal in a competitive market. It also allows you to choose your supplier by the sort of electricity you prefer. If you want to support renewable energy, some suppliers promise 100% clean energy, though not all do, so do your research thoroughly. Cost is no longer the only criterion, and more and more people are coming around to the idea that renewable energy deserves their dollars.
Some of the renewable energy companies in New York are:
- Agera Energy, LLC
- Ambit New York, LLC
- Citizen’s Choice Energy
- CleanChoice Energy
- Clearview Energy
- Greenlight Energy Inc.
- Pure Energy
- Residents Energy, LLC
- Starion Energy NY, Inc.
- Think Energy
- Utility Expense Reduction, LLC
- Inspire Clean Energy – We are a renewable energy provider that offers our customers 100% clean energy, give them a custom flat monthly price for their energy (meaning no surprises) with no long contract, and smart tools to better manage your energy consumption. Find out more about our unlimited electricity plans today.
The way we produce energy and the energy market itself is constantly changing. The move toward renewable energy is gaining momentum every day, and if you live in a deregulated state like New York, you can make a difference. Choosing an energy supplier that provides only electricity from a sustainable, green source is a positive step toward a better world and a brighter future.
Switching to renewable energy – and thus drastically reducing your carbon footprint – with us is fast and easy. Signing up takes less than 5 minutes, and once you’ve decided to switch, we do the rest. To learn more or to sign up today, click here.
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