Note: To power your home with renewable energy, see the most recent Subscription Community Solar chart and FAQ: and 100% Renewable Electricity chart.
By Gerri Wiley, HeatSmart volunteer and Energy Navigator
For those of you who follow my 100% Renewable Electricity ESCO chart updates and Subscription Solar chart updates: This month, just a Subscription Solar chart has been updated as there is additional clarifying work to be done prior to finalizing the upcoming ESCO chart in order to provide you with accurate information.
For those of you who are interested in what utilities are buying on your behalf (if you accept your utility’s default electricity supply) and those who want New York to reach its climate goals, you’ll want to make sure you grab a chair and sit down before reading on.
Last week, the 2020 New York Generation Attribute Tracking System (NYGATS) report was unveiled, showing the fuel mixes purchased by the seven NYS utilities and all of the electricity ESCOs that serve New York. We can talk about New York’s renewable energy capacity and production, but where the rubber meets the road is right here—the energy that is purchased and sent to the grid on our behalf—the energy sending or not sending greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, affecting climate stability. Let’s take a look at NYSEG’s mix for 2020, along with most years since 2006:
So, what are we seeing here?
- We see WIND has recovered from a dip in 2019 and is back to 3% of the mix, although this is half of the 6% it provided from 2013-2015.
- We see that SOLAR has finally jumped into the race at 2% from its previous < 1%.
- We see that COAL at 2% continues its decline.
- We see that hydro at 12% continues its decline.
- We see that RENEWABLES as a whole rose a bit more than 1%, but that EMISSION-FREE ELECTRICITY dropped more than 2% during 2020.
I saved the most painful take-aways for last:
- With the shutdown of Indian Point nuclear power plant’s Unit 2 on April 30, 2020, we see a 3% drop in NUCLEAR from 2019 along with a 4% increase in NATURAL GAS (METHANE).
- With the retirement of Indian Point’s Unit 3 on April 30th, 2021, marking the permanent shut-down of the Indian Point plant, predict for me what we’ll see in the 2021 NYGATS? 31% NUCLEAR? 49% NATURAL GAS? 49% emission-free electricity? Go ahead and argue with me. Make it not so. Need I remind folks that the rapid drawdown of atmospheric methane buys us the time we need to prevent out-of-control climate chaos?
Let me just say that no matter what we decide about NUCLEAR in the long term, we simply can’t allow its rapid reduction prior to ramping up renewable electricity and storage. Again—go ahead and argue with me. Make it not so.
If you think that NYSEG’s NYGATS data differs markedly from the rest of the utilities’ data, take a look at the attached chart that includes all seven utilities’ NYGATS data from 2016 to 2020.
On that somber note, I’ll wish you Happy Holidays! I’m here as always for your questions and comments.