Electrification in New York State

Are We Moving Too Fast?

new york electricity Is New York’s express train to all-out electrification on the wrong track and moving too fast? The answer seems to be yes, especially in the wake of the most recent Reliability Needs Assessment (RNA) released by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). The NYSIO manages New York’s electric grid, including the sale of electricity from power plants to the grid.

The assessment pointed to “thinning reliability margins” for electric supply over the next decade. This outlook can be traced to the state’s aggressive push to shift completely away from fossil fuels as a power source for electricity. But here’s the problem as highlighted by the NYISO: fossil fuel electric generation is being eliminated at a faster rate than they are being replaced by alternative fuels.

Under the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York State is scheduled to get 70% of its electricity from renewable fuels by 2030. And by 2040, the goal is to achieve 100% of our electric power from renewable sources.

How are we doing so far? Here’s the current breakdown of how we generate electricity in New York State.

  • 50% from fossil fuel plants (either natural gas or a dual fuel combination of gas and fuel oil)
  • 22% nuclear power
  • 20% hydropower
  • 4% wind
  • 2% other renewables, including solar.

And while it’s true that the percentage of renewables are growing, it’s also true that making this growth feasible translates into a big price tag.

Adding Up the Cost for New Yorkers

In February, the New York State Public Service Commission approved a $4.4 billion dollar transmission line upgrade plan from three utilities: National Grid, NYSEG, and Central Hudson. This would allow these utilities to draw in additional power from more renewable energy projects. But it was estimated that customers could see their utility rates increase as much as 16%, depending on their service classifications and location.

Other costs that may be influencing utility bills over the coming years, based on actions by the Public Service Commission, include:

  • $700 million to subsidize electric vehicle chargers
  • $454 million for heat pump subsidies
  • $1 billion to subsidize small-scale solar projects and more.

Will We Stay Warm 10 Years from Now?

An issue that needs to be discussed more is electric reliability during the winter months, especially in the next decade as more fleets transition to electric vehicles and more buildings electrify.

In the Northeast, it’s estimated that about 10% of our energy consumption goes toward air conditioning. (In contrast, we use about 40% of total energy towards heating).

Yet, it seems like we can never get through a summer heat wave without heavy electric demand causing a power outage somewhere in New York. Are we really going to be prepared to handle an enormous new electric heating load during the winter? Right now, we’re far from getting there.

Renewable Propane

When discussing clean energy, electricity isn’t the only answer. While renewable propane isn’t in wide use right now, its production grows substantially each year. Just as conventional propane is a co-product of natural gas/oil refining, renewable propane can be described as a co-product of biodiesel production.

Molecularly identical to conventional propane, it’s made using many of the same feedstocks as biodiesel. Renewable propane has less than half the carbon intensity of conventional propane and roughly 22% of the intensity of grid electricity.

Read about renewable propane gas and learn more about why propane is the cleaner, more efficient choice in New York.



Times Union