The passage of the Clean Energy Standard last year confirmed New York as a clean energy leader, but the state has been leading the country in clean energy before then. According to the Energy Information Administration, New York has the lowest carbon emissions per capita in all 50 states.
Part of this due to a diverse energy portfolio and a well-run transit system in the City. For decades, nuclear power has contributed to more than 30 percent of the state’s energy grid. More recently wind and solar have contributed to about 5 percent of the grid. Several factors contribute to this, including New York’s diverse clean energy portfolio, the widespread use of mass transit in New York City, and the percentage of power contributed by nuclear energy.
However, between a growing population and the impending loss of Indian Point, we can expect to see carbon emissions rise. Natural gas, the cleanest baseload power substitute, is a mild-carbon emitting source. And with energy demands estimated to rise 2.3 percent between 2015 and 2020, New York may possibly fall back on its clean energy leadership when Indian Point closes in 2021.
Fortunately, Indian Point will continue to operate at full power until 2021 and New York’s upstate plants will run for the foreseeable future, thanks to the Clean Energy Standard and Zero Emissions Credit program. However, the state should take action now to plan for replacement power that will meet energy demand and keep carbon emissions low as we prepare for a future without Indian Point.