- New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced proposed regulations aimed at phasing out less efficient power plants that only run when demand is high.
- The proposal includes lower thresholds for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, and would phase in control requirements from 2023 to 2025. Gas-fired peaker plants, which generate infrequently, can account for more than a third of the state's daily power plant NOx emissions when they run.
- New York wants to use clean energy technologies to help meet aggressive environmental goals. The proposed rules would give plant owners an option to meet the new standards in part by installing renewables or batteries.
Due to its ambitious clean energy goals, New York is targeting energy storage as a way to replace peaker plants — a strategy that has also been used on the West Coast. And the falling cost of batteries has made them a possible replacement for expensive power plants, which can account for significant emissions even if they run infrequently.
The state aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and shift to 100% clean electricity by 2040.
"Reducing our reliance on peak-use power plants through increased energy storage deployment will accelerate us toward achieving Governor Cuomo's nation-leading vision for a 100% carbon-free electricity system and deliver health and environmental benefits for all New Yorkers," Alicia Barton, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority president and CEO, said in a statement.
The new rules would target simple cycle and regenerative combustion turbines during the ozone season, in order to address Clean Air Act requirements, nonattainment with federal ozone standards and to "protect the health of New York State residents."
There are dozens of potentially impacted plants across the state, many of which officials say are almost 50 years old and run infrequently. When they are powered up, however, New York's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says the plants emit NOx at levels that are at least 30 times more than newer-turbine emissions.
"These turbines collectively can account for over a third of New York's daily power plant NOx emissions while producing less electricity for consumers than cleaner sources," according to Thursday's announcement. The state added that the plants are often located "in proximity to environmental justice areas."
The DEC will hold three public hearings on the proposal in May, and will take written comments until May 20.
To reach the state's environmental goals, New York wants to deploy 9,000 MW of offshore wind by 2035, 6,000 MW of distributed solar by 2025 and 3,000 MW of energy storage by 2030, along with a range of other resources and programs.