The ACE NY conference concluded yesterday after a day-and-a-half of engaging conversation on a wide range of clean energy topics. These are some of my observations on the present and future for clean energy in New York.
ACE NY is doing essential work.
Given the nature of the clean energy coalition and the crossroads currently facing energy policy in New York, the Alliance for Clean Energy New York finds itself playing a pivotal role. The Alliance has to align the interests of diverse agents to achieve huge growth in renewable energy. It has to do so while awaiting news from state about how state resources will support that effort. This week’s conference was not only a great opportunity for clean energy stakeholders to interact, it was also an opportunity to observe how essential groups like ACE NY really are. The organization both arranged a seamless conference and made evident that it will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of New York’s clean energy agenda. As the state continues to fall short of the clean energy milestones needed to achieve a 50% renewables portfolio by 2030 (50 by 30), ACE NY will only become more influential and essential.
Clean energy advocacy represents a broad alliance.
The conference, like the larger collective of advocates for clean energy, included attendees from disparate industries with disparate individual interests. Panel topics included solar project procurement, wind turbine siting, energy efficiency targets, and carbon pricing. While the different industry groups share one common goal – achieving New York’s 50 by 30 goal – they see different pathways to achieving it. They use different language, deploy different acronyms, seek different milestones, and advocate different policy solutions. More than once, presenters explained why others in the room should support a clean energy source outside their individual industry. These differences need not beget animosity or competition, but they make for a bit of an uneasy alliance. Just as ACE NY continues to try to coalesce the varied groups into a single lobbying force, so to do efficiency, wind, and solar folks need to consider pathways to speak and act with more unity, or at least more shared purpose, than they have in the past.
Regulators and state agencies supported the clean energy targets without providing specific resources to achieve them.
Several representatives from state agencies addressed the audience in Albany, and unsurprisingly given the venue, they unanimously supported clean energy. They embraced the need for more solar. They embraced the need for more wind. They embraced the need for more efficiency. Each and every state employee was enthusiastic about the future of clean energy. They were equally vague about how to achieve it. Sure, they all talked about more procurement and more funding. However, the goal of 50% renewables by 2030, along with the other goals under REV, is incredibly ambitious.
The ambition of the goal demands equal ambition in solution and response. In the energy efficiency space, for example, New York is falling well short of its 2030 aim. Because of reduced funding for efficiency projects, NY has lost its place as a leader on efficiency. The State of New York has not, and at the conference did not, unveil the sort of specific and far-reaching strategy necessary to achieve the REV standards. Those at the conference expressed optimism that such a policy outline may be on the horizon. That would be a welcome outcome. Support from the state will help industry groups achieve incremental growth. That incremental growth will be insufficient to achieve New York’s targets.
With the completion of the annual conference, now is an excellent time to appreciate ACE NY and its contributions to the state, the planet, and the industries it represents. Thank you to ACE NY’s dynamic leader Anne Reynolds for her hard work and continued advocacy.