Environmental Justice, Sustainability, and Vegetation and Habitat Management
NYPA has been committed to sustainability and environmental justice since its inception. Generating clean power while preserving natural resources such as the St. Lawrence River and Niagara Falls, and using that electricity to the advantage of all New Yorkers was the intent of the legislation establishing the New York Power Authority.
Environmental justice (EJ) is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. Historically, sources of pollution were often located in financially or politically disadvantaged communities, or such communities grew around factories or other pollution producing facilities because they offered work. EJ efforts focus on improving the environment in those communities, and addressing any disproportionate adverse environmental impacts that may exist in those communities.
NYPA’s Environmental Justice Commitments
- Collaborate with environmental justice communities near NYPA’s facilities
- Develop environmental justice training of NYPA staff
- Implement energy efficiency educational program within environmental justice communities near NYPA facilities
- Establish an internal Environmental Justice Task Force at NYPA
- Develop energy efficiency, clean energy and electric transportation projects in environmental justice communities near NYPA facilities
NYPA has formalized its internal and external commitments to sustainability and introduced sophisticated tracking and measuring systems, including regular public reports on our data and efforts. Our sustainability duty is to:
- Recognize that the people of the State of New York have a genuine regard for the environment, and have the right to expect that NYPA, as a state-chartered energy supplier, will respect their concerns in this regard.
- Meet the requirements of all applicable environmental laws, regulations and permit requirements and to verify this commitment through environmental auditing and performance measurement.
- Reduce the impact of our operations on air, water, biota and land.
- Continue an aggressive, cost-effective pollution prevention, recycling and waste minimization program.
- Integrate environmental considerations into our regular business and planning processes and seek to use vendors and contractors who likewise integrate these concerns into their businesses.
- Support energy-efficiency and renewable-energy programs and encourage resource conservation.
- Educate our employees and contractors so that they each know their environmental responsibilities and share NYPA’s commitment to the environment.
- Pursue opportunities to achieve environmental enhancements through stewardship programs that incorporate stakeholder and community input for the responsible care of the land, air, water, biota and cultural resources associated with our land holdings and projects.
- Participate in the public policy debate and the scientific study of environmental issues affecting our industry.
- Regularly measure environmental performance and share the results of those measurements with our employees, customers and the public at large, recognizing our unique position as a publicly owned leader in the electric utility industry.
NYPA works to be a good neighbor in the communities surrounding its facilities and transmission lines, and that means being engaged in environmental protection and restoration. Our planning and projects reflect that commitment, and we regularly engage in habitat and wildlife planning and restoration.
In addition to the work in and near our facilities, the NYPA vegetation management program maintains approximately 16,000 acres of right-of-way (ROW) along the paths of our power lines. The program's principal goal is to provide safe and reliable transmission of electric power in an economically and environmentally compatible manner.
The vegetation management strategy that has been adopted by NYPA is known as integrated vegetation management (IVM). IVM recognizes the full range of financial and societal impacts of ROW management. This approach “emphasizes the highly selective use of herbicides to completely remove all tall growing target species of vegetation from the ROW environs, while simultaneously preserving all other low growing desirable vegetation.” NYPA’s practices were audited by the ROW Steward Accreditation Program in 2013. According to the audit report, “the Audit Team determined that NYPA passed all criteria and that, in many ways, NYPA’s ROW are a model of sustainable IVM. The overall audit score is 4.4 out of 5.0, indicating performance above industry norms.” The Audit Team recommended that the ROW Steward Council recognize NYPA as an accredited ROW Steward.
The ROW Steward Accreditation Program grew out of the utility vegetation management industry’s commitment to the sustainable practice of IVM, building on a decade of research and development work by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The ROW Steward Accreditation Program was developed by a diverse group of stakeholders (electric utilities, industry trade groups, environmental nongovernmental organizations, government representatives, the public, industry suppliers, contractors and consultants). Its purpose is to recognize excellence in the application and practice of IVM on the North American electric power grid.