New York State Passes the Most Ambitious Climate Change Legislation in the Nation and Advances Offshore Wind Energy Development with Inaugural Procurement of Offshore Renewable Energy Credits

On July 18, 2019, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law the New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”), the most ambitious climate change legislation in the country. The CLCPA, among other things, codifies the State’s goals of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, including an 85% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as well as generating 70% of the State’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and having 9,000 megawatts (“MW”) of installed offshore wind energy capacity by 2035. Read more about the CLCPA here.

Underscoring the State’s commitment to fight climate change, Governor Cuomo also announced the winners of New York’s first offshore wind solicitation for the procurement of approximately 1,700 MW of offshore wind renewable energy certificates (“ORECs”).[1] There were two winners: Empire Wind (Equinor US Holdings, Inc.), and Sunrise Wind (Bay State Wind LLC, a joint venture of Ørsted A/S and Eversource Energy). The Empire Wind project is located south of Long Island, and will provide 816 MW of offshore wind energy to New York City. The Sunrise Wind project is located off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, and will provide 880 MW of offshore wind energy to Long Island.  The nearly 1,700 MW of offshore wind energy from these projects will be enough to power more than 1 million New York homes.  The projects also are anticipated to bring $3.2 billion in private investments to the State and support more than 1,600 jobs.

The winners were chosen from 18 proposals submitted by four developers; in addition to Equinor and Bay State Wind, proposals were submitted by Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind LLC (a joint venture of EDF Renewables North America and Shell New Energies US) and Vineyard Wind LLC (a joint venture of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables). To be eligible to respond to the solicitation, projects were required to deliver electricity directly or indirectly into New York, and to already have an offshore lease from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”).

Ørsted now has been awarded two OREC procurements, after being awarded New Jersey’s first offshore wind solicitation on June 21, 2019. Ørsted’s Ocean Wind project, which will sit 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City, will bring 1,100 MW of power to New Jersey – enough to power over 500,000 homes – and will advance New Jersey toward its goal of 3,500 MW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030.

New York’s procurement brings the State closer to meeting its now-codified renewable energy and offshore wind goals. The procurement also builds upon the State’s prior efforts to support offshore wind development in New York, including the issuance of its Offshore Wind Master Plan in January 2018 and the New York State Public Service Commission’s Order establishing the Offshore Wind Standard in July 2018.

SPR advised NYSERDA on the development of the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan and its 20 supporting studies as well as several of its other offshore wind initiatives, and helped prepare the generic environmental impact statement for the State’s procurement of ORECs. SPR now represents the developer of the proposed Arthur Kill Terminal, which would be the first offshore wind pre-assembly port facility in New York State. Read more about SPR’s offshore wind work here.

[1] An “OREC” represents the environmental attributes associated with one megawatt-hour of electricity generated by offshore wind resources and consumed by customers in New York State. As explained in our prior blog post, NYSERDA serves as a procurement agent by procuring ORECs from eligible offshore wind developers on behalf of load-serving entities (“LSEs”) that provide retail electricity in New York. LSEs will be required to purchase from NYSERDA a percentage of ORECs each year in an amount proportionate to the energy load served by the LSE in the New York control area.