A few days before the Indian Point nuclear plant was permanently shuttered on April 30 of this year, I warned New Yorkers to prepare for power outages this summer.  The plant had provided one-fourth of NYC’s electricity.  Shutting it down created a cavernous hole in electricity supplies, which have only been partially replaced with two new generating plants running on natural gas, supplied by pipelines that Governor Cuomo won’t allow to be built.

Two weeks ago, Mayor DeBlasio was urging New Yorkers to turn off their appliances – including their air conditioners – during a heatwave. He said, “Our electric system is dealing with real strains right now because of the severity of heat that we are experiencing today.”  Meanwhile, in Phoenix, where the temperature routinely hits 120 degrees in summer and temperatures rarely fall below 90 degrees over the entire summer, the electricity system, and air conditioners, were humming along.

The only reason the electric system was strained was Governor Cuomo’s foolish crusade to shutter Indian Point under a twisted mantle of “safety.”  Sending Covid-19 patients to nursing homes and causing the deaths of thousands of elderly residents: safe.  Indian Point: terrifying.

Meanwhile, the Governor’s mandate for “zero emissions” electricity, along with electrifying the entire state, continue.  The state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) calls for replacing home heating systems that use natural gas and fuel oil with electric heat pumps.  Beginning in 2035, only electric vehicles will be allowed to be sold in the state.

Looking beyond the costs – just constructing the mandated 9,000 MW of offshore wind will cost upwards of $50 billion[1] while providing the European companies that build the turbines with billions in investment tax credits – increasing the demand for electricity through electrification will make power outages and demands to cut electricity use more frequent.  In California, during its current heatwave – a not uncommon event in a desert climate – the state has been telling residents to shut off their appliances and not to charge their electric vehicles at night.

Today, electricity accounts for just one-fifth of total energy consumption in New York.[2]   The rest is energy from fossil fuels.  Replacing all of that fossil fuel energy with electricity will cause electricity demand to soar, making outages far more likely.

What happens on a cloudy, and sultry New York summer day?  Or a cold and cloudy winter one?  The CLPCA has the answer: 3,000 MW of battery storage to be built by 2030, at a cost of around $9 billion, which will provide about 10,000 MWh of electricity over four hours.

By comparison, in 2019, average daily electricity consumption in the state was around 384,000 megawatt-hours (MWh).[3]  So all of that battery storage would provide a little more than a half-hour’s worth of average daily use at current electricity consumption levels.

As most upstate New Yorkers know, winter is not especially sunny, which means solar power will contribute little electricity.  And there are many periods where the wind doesn’t blow.[4]  So if the CLPCA’s electrification dreams are realized, electricity demand will soar and that battery storage will be virtually useless.

The CLCPA was passed in 2019 with great fanfare, promising New Yorkers it would create thousands of new “green” jobs and solve climate change.  It will accomplish neither.  In 2018, the state’s carbon emissions were around 170 million tons.[5]  That may sound like a lot, but it is less than two days of world carbon emissions.[6]  It’s also about the same amount as the average yearly increase in China’s emissions over the last decade.

More power outages, higher electricity costs, and no impact on world climate.  A trifecta of bad energy policy that will benefit only Cuomo’s green energy cronies.

[1] Based on a cost of $5,500/kW.  Source: US EIA, “Cost and Performance of New Generating Technologies,” Annual Energy Outlook 2021, Table 1.

[2] Source: US Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data System.

[3] Source: US Energy Information Administration, Electricity Data Browser.

[4] Source: NYSERDA, Power Trends 2021, p. 16, Table 9 (8-hour periods). 

[5] Source: US Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data System.

[6] Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2021.

Jonathan Lesser is the president of Continental Economics and an adjunct fellow with the Manhattan Institute.

This article originally appeared at Real Clear Energy


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