New York City’s resolution declaring a climate emergency may be symbolic, but it sends a positive signal that the Big Apple is serious about transitioning to clean-energy systems, according to industry executives.
“Climate emergency declarations typically don't contain policy measures on how to slow climate change,” Jay Patel, CEO of Brighter Sun Power Systems LLC, a renewable energy company, told Proactive Investors. “But make no mistake, New York City is building a strong track recod for tackling global warming.”
New York’s declaration comes two months after the City Council passed a landmark "Climate Mobilization Act,” a combination of measures that includes emissions cuts from large buildings and puts the city on pace to shut down 24 gas-fired power plants.
The measure, coupled with a handful of other bills to bolster renewable energy in the city, are dubbed New York’s version of a Green New Deal.
The cornerstone of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Green New Deal is to boost New York’s clean energy standard from 50% to 70% renewable electricity by 2030.
"New York is a mega city and it can be a technology trendsetter for renewable energy,” noted Patel.
With New York's population of more than 8.3 million, the city is now the largest in the US to declare a climate emergency, according to the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum.
A green revolution in the Big Apple
New York is making a big bet that by making its power cleaner, it can become a magnet for clean-energy jobs. Three years ago, New York announced it would spend $5.3 billion toward meeting its goal of having 50% of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2030.
“I applaud the New York City Council for passing legislation to respond to global climate change,” said Capstone CEO Darren Jamison. “However, legislation is nice, but execution is what matters at the end of the day.”
Jamison said New York businesses are taking matters into their own hands by building new high-efficiency LEED certified green buildings.
“Many businesses and hospitals are installing energy efficient systems like solar PV, wind, microturbines, fuel cells, energy efficient lighting and building materials,” said Jamison. “The new 77-story One Vanderbilt office tower in New York City is the latest Capstone energy efficiency project to crack the New York skyline.”
Capstone’s microturbines range from a 30-kilowatt, consumer-level unit up to 200-megawatts — enough to power skyscrapers.
In New York City alone, the company’s microturbines are used in hundreds of buildings, including two units at Hudson Yards, the new One Vanderbilt tower next to Grand Central Terminal, as well as Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, Marriott International Inc and big businesses such as Fresh Direct.
“Capstone Turbine is using its highly efficient, Made in USA, heavily patented, microturbine technology to help save end use customers an estimated $194 million and 314,000 tons of carbon last year alone with little support from federal or state governments,” Jamison pointed out.
Since Capstone is an inverter-based technology it works in concert with other inverter-based technologies like wind, solar and battery storage to form low emission sensitive microgrids.
Strategic incentives and penalties
In April, Governor Cuomo announced that $280 million of support is available for energy-storage projects to accelerate growth within the industry and drive down energy-storage deployment costs.
"This funding continues our efforts to support clean energy and energy-storage projects, growing the industry and creating good jobs," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
Still, the industry feels more federal and state support in the shape of financial energy subsidies, carbon taxes and consumer education on green energy, recycling and climate change would drive energy cost-savings and combat climate change.
“The US needs to take measured steps to effect meaningful change across a wide range of climate damaging industries that are high NOx (nitrogen oxide) and carbon dioxide emitting sources,” said Jamison. “These don’t need to be free programs, but a mixture of financial incentives and financial penalties to help business and consumers make the right green energy choices in their day-to-day lives.”
Jamison said a “moderate amount of strategic incentives and penalties” for green energy using existing commercial green off-the-shelf technologies can have a “huge impact” on the local climate crisis.
“The US needs to focus on reducing emissions from large buildings, transportation, agriculture, oil production and associated gas flaring,” said Jamison.
More than 650 municipalities in 15 countries have declared climate emergencies, including Sydney and London.
“Resolutions don’t have much power other than consensus building,” Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat from the Upper East Side, told HuffPost. “The more of these that pass, the harder it is for people like [President Donald] Trump to deny what’s happened.”