The Big Apple is known for its beautiful skyline and architecture—but these buildings will go through some major changes in the next couple of months. On Earth Day, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation that requires buildings 25,000 square feet or larger to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 40% by 2030. There are just about 50,000 buildings in the city that are subject to these new rules, and these buildings account for about a third of the cities carbon footprint. The city has a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
How They Will Achieve These Goals
Now that this legislation has been put into place, this is going to bring a challenge for landlords to find low-carbon or emissions-free electricity. The only option for many landlords is going to be to plug their buildings into green power sources through the grid. The legislation establishes caps on the amount of greenhouse-gas emissions permitted per square feet.
“This will be the largest disruption in the history of New York City real estate,” said John Mandyck, the chief executive officer of the Urban Green Council. “Buildings will have to do deep energy retrofits or buy green power or eventually look at carbon trading. We get that it’s tough and that billions of dollars will need to be spent to reduce carbon emissions. But new technology and new business models will be invented to help buildings get there.”
What This Means For Renewable Energy
The city is targeting 1,000 megawatts of solar installed by 2030, and 500 megawatts of battery storage by 2025. “This legislation was critical to building demand for a greener grid in the city,” explained Mandyck. “And where there’s demand, supply will follow. The council effectively primed the pump.” Currently, there are 154 megawatts of solar generation in the city with no significant battery storage capacity—which is partly due to the FDNY prohibiting lithium batteries due to fire risks.
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Pennsylvania’s two energy giants—natural gas and nuclear power industries—have been pitted against each other in the debate over the state’s proposed $500 million nuclear rescue package. Renewable energy advocates believe they hold the swing vote and are requesting a seat at the table to determine if this bill will pass. Let’s take a deeper look at the specifics of the plan and what it means for the energy industry moving forward.
Nuclear Rescue Plan in PA
The proposed $500 million Pennsylvania nuclear rescue plan will cost each state household about an additional $1.77 per month in increased electric rates. This new bill will require utility providers and other retail sellers of electricity to purchase half their power from zero-emission nuclear power plants. In addition, this proposed bill requires urgent action to avert closure of Exelon’s Three Mile Island Unit 1 Reactor.
Green Power Bills in PA
Philadelphia area legislators are set to introduce green energy bills that will increase the share of solar and wind power in the state. The green energy bills will help reduce carbon emissions by requiring renewable energy to make up 30 percent of all power sold in the state by 2030, up from the current law that sets a target of 8 percent by 2021.
“The time is now, while you’re talking about the nuclear bill, to start talking about where do we want to be by 2030 and 2050 in terms of solar and wind in Pennsylvania, because otherwise, we’re going to be left behind,” said State Rep. Steve McCarter, (D., Montgomery), who is sponsoring a house version of the legislation.
Environmentalists are Torn
Currently, Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards require 18 percent of electricity be derived from renewable energy sources. Without this nuclear rescue package, some environmentalists fear that the closure of even one reactor will result in an immediate increase in gas-fired production, which would increase the state’s emission levels.
There are environmentalists who oppose this bill because it will not help increase renewable energy. “What we want is a climate bill that would put the state on track to decarbonize the power sector, not just a nuclear subsidy bill,” said Szybist, of the NRDC.
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