- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, has proposed a new Office of Renewable Energy Permitting that would "improve and streamline the process" for permitting large-scale renewable energy projects across the state.
- The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act was advanced Feb. 21 as a 30-day budget amendment, and if adopted, would consolidate the environmental review of major renewable facilities into a single forum under the New York Department of Economic Development.
- Projects that have already begun to navigate the current permitting process will be able to opt in to the new process. The new office would aim to ensure complete applications are acted upon within one year, with some former commercial and industrial sites being reviewed within six months.
Gov. Cuomo says the new permitting office will be necessary for the state to obtain 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and other goals included in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act lawmakers adopted in 2019.
The legislation introduced last week reaffirms the state's "position as a market leader with a revamped process for building and delivering renewable energy projects faster," Cuomo said in a statement. The existing energy generation siting process was designed for permitting fossil-fuel electric generating plants, and created before last year's renewables-oriented policies were adopted.
New York's aggressive climate goals have the state moving to carbon neutrality by 2050.
Cuomo's statement said the legislation will ensure that renewable energy development is a part of the state's economic future and is designed to spur "an even greater growth of green jobs."
The new siting office will develop draft permits for public comment, ensure that complete applications are acted upon within one year, and utilize project siting standards that "reflect the environmental impacts common to types of renewable projects, and include upfront mitigation measures to address those impacts," according to the governor's announcement.
New York cities and towns will be able to advise the new office on compliance with local laws.
The legislation would also create a Clean Energy Resources Development and Incentives Program to be run by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, to rapidly advance new "build-ready" projects and prioritize the development of existing or abandoned commercial sites.
"Once sites are fully permitted and developed, NYSERDA will competitively auction the developed sites, bundled with contracts for renewable energy payments, to provide a fully de-risked package for private developers to construct and operate projects at these sites," according to the governor's announcement.
The program agency will also develop a Host Communities Benefit Program for build-ready site property owners and communities to receive incentives to host major renewable energy facilities. If the legislation is passed, NYSERDA will also have a "consultative role" in the development of Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreements, "to ensure a just and level playing field for communities in assessing property taxes," according to Cuomo's announcement.