Since its inception and throughout its more than 80 years of history, the Power Authority has employed sustainable practices in its development of clean, renewable hydropower and advancement of energy efficiency technologies. In 2010, NYPA formalized this tradition with a new Sustainability Action Plan that outlines ways to meet today’s energy needs without adversely affecting future generations. The initiative, called Generating Sustainability, includes annual progress reports for increased transparency and accountability to NYPA stakeholders and the community-at-large.
Among the initiative’s action items is greater awareness of and responsiveness to the issue of Environmental Justice, especially in communities closest to NYPA facilities. The Power Authority was one of 15 original members of New York’s Interagency Task Force on Environmental Justice, established in 2008, and its ongoing outreach efforts can be found across the state, in urban centers and rural regions.
Generating and transmitting electricity in a safe, environmentally benign manner is a top priority for the Power Authority. Using that electricity for economic development is equally important, and the reason why Governor Andrew M. Cuomo authorized NYPA to administer his ReCharge New York program, which provides lower-cost power to eligible businesses and not-for-profit corporations that commit to creating and retaining jobs while making capital investments at their facilities. Allocations, which come from 910-MW block of electricity that is 50 percent hydropower and 50 percent market power, began flowing on July 1, 2012.
Also in 2012, Governor Cuomo announced plans for the New York Energy Highway, envisioned as a sweeping public-private initiative to upgrade and modernize New York State’s electric power system. Its goals are to help provide reliable, economical power to New York’s homes and businesses for the next half century while creating jobs, energizing private-sector investment and protecting the state’s environment and the well-being of its citizens. Co-chairs of the Energy Highway Task Force overseeing this multi-year endeavor are NYPA President and Chief Executive Officer Gil Quiniones and state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens.
Infrastructure improvements – for both transmission and generation – are a major consideration of the Energy Highway initiative. So is the development of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies. In 2012, NYPA embarked on two separate efforts, known as Market Acceleration Programs (MAPs), to: 1) accelerate and expand the use of solar power projects, and 2) to speed deployment of commercial energy efficiency products and systems not yet widely available. The two new programs are in addition to NYPA’s long-standing commitment to helping New York use its energy resources more efficiently. The Power Authority also continues its role in supporting the development of electric-drive vehicles for the economic and environmental benefits this technology offers.
Over the decades, the Power Authority has taken on ever-increasing challenges from New York’s Legislatures and Governors, breaking new ground and setting new standards for other utilities—public and private. With pressing issues facing the utility industry, it is ready to make more history.