The state legislative season wrapped up last month, and while some policy areas – like housing – didn’t see the big wins that were expected, elected officials did pass a lot of important bills on other subjects. Clean energy and the environment received a lot of attention from the Legislature, and they passed several major bills. In addition to cap and invest, here are some of the other major clean energy bills that passed in Albany this year.
Cap and invest
Cap and invest is the state’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in cleaner alternatives. The overall goal is to reduce emissions from 1990 levels by 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050. The state’s largest emitters will be required to pay a fee to be allowed to continue emitting pollutants. The money collected will be put into clean energy projects, including energy efficiency upgrades, renewable energy development and clean energy transportation. An emphasis will be placed on spending in communities that have traditionally borne the brunt of environmental injustice.
Build Public Renewables Act
The Build Public Renewables Act requires the New York Power Authority to generate, acquire or transmit only renewable energy as of Jan. 1, 2030. By Dec. 30, 2030, the authority has to have phased out its use of nonrenewable energy sources. The New York Power Authority is also expected to prioritize renewable energy projects that benefit disadvantaged communities; minimize harm to wildlife, ecosystems and public health; don’t violate Indigenous rights; and that work with labor unions. Within two years of its passage, the act also requires the New York Power Authority to publish a 10-year climate and resiliency plan that outlines its ideas for phasing out fossil fuels and generating more clean energy.
Zero-Emission New Construction
Better known as the gas stove ban, the Zero-Emission New Construction legislation was a step toward decarbonizing buildings. It requires all new buildings of seven stories or fewer to have all-electric cooking and heating by Dec. 31, 2025, and in buildings of more than seven stories by Dec. 31, 2028. This means no more gas stoves, furnaces or propane heating. Homes that already have electric heating and cooking will not be impacted by this legislation.
More funding released
The state budget also included additional allocations for environmental protection and clean water funding. The state’s Environmental Protection Fund received $400 million to be used for “climate change mitigation, protecting water sources, advancing conservation efforts and providing recreational opportunities.” Projects the fund has previously paid for include purchasing land for the state’s Forest Preserve, restoring historic sites, conserving farmland and controlling invasive species. The budget also included $500 million for clean water infrastructure under the Clean Water Infrastructure Act to reduce water pollution and improve drinking water quality.
Correction: The NY Heat Act passed the state Senate, but failed in the Assembly. It has been removed from this story. The All-Electric Building Act also did not pass, but a similar measure was included in the budget, and that entry has been corrected.