New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Will There Be Enough Green Electricity for Co-ops and Condos?

New York State

Climate Mobilization Act, green electricity, renewable energy, transmission lines, co-op and condo boards.

Wind farms like the ones coming to the waters off Long Island will "green" the electrical grid.

Nov. 30, 2021

Co-op and condo boards scrambling to find ways to reduce their buildings' carbon emissions enough to comply with the city's looming Climate Mobilization Act keep hearing the new real estate mantra: electrification, electrification, electrification. By switching from fossil-fuels to electricity from renewable sources to power their building systems, the thinking goes, boards can take a giant stride toward meeting carbon goals.

But will there be enough "green" electricity to meet the demand?

Not if the New York State can't overcome a major problem, according to The New York Times. The state effectively has two separate electrical grids: upstate, where most of the state’s growing clean-power supply is generated; and in and around New York City, the area that consumes the most energy and relies most heavily on power from fossil fuels. The power lines that connect the two, already clogged with a traffic jam of electrons, cannot carry more.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced two huge transmission-line projects designed to break up the traffic jam. By law, New York has just nine years to more than double the share of the electricity it uses that is generated from wind, sun and water to 70%, from less than 30% today. That will require unifying and expanding the state’s divided electrical grid and reshaping it to work less like a one-way transmitter and more like an ecosystem.

The new transmission lines promise to bring renewable energy directly to New York City, aimed at making the state’s “tale of two grids” — cleaner upstate and heavily reliant on fossil fuel downstate — “a thing of the past,” said Doreen Harris, who heads the state’s energy development agency. At last analysis, just 21% of the city’s power came from sources that do not emit planet-warming gases — a fraction that soon fell to 3% with the closure of the Indian Point nuclear plant.

One line, called Clean Path New York, will stretch 179 miles from Delaware County in the Western Catskills to a substation on the East River. Another, the Champlain Hudson Power Express, will run a buried cable from Canada down the Hudson River to Queens. The Champlain Hudson line will be built and owned by the global investment firm Blackstone, while the Clean Path will be controlled by the New York Power Authority and private developers. There's reason for cautious optimism. Together with recently approved offshore wind projects, the transmission lines set the state on track to meet its 2030 goal of getting 70% of the electricity consumed in the state from renewable sources. Then it will be up to co-op and condo boards to switch to building systems powered by that planet-friendly green electricity.

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