Energy, and its procurement, is a politically-charged issue. In an effort to decouple politics and energy, a trio of think tanks is urging policy-makers to set aside partisan differences and boom and bust policies.
An April 2012 report by the Breakthrough Institute, Brookings Institution, and World Resources Institute makes a number of recommendations, endorsed by The New York Times, for achieving a future powered by clean, green energy, including investments in wind, solar, and nuclear power.
In a separate report, the Breakthrough Institute uses the shale gas industry’s history as a reason to continue supporting government investment in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) projects. Although New York has been resistant to fracking, this may be the year when that changes. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his administration is considering a plan to allow drilling along the New York-Pennsylvania border. The plan is backed by the State Department of Environmental Conservation, which signaled support for fracking throughout the state last year, except in environmentally sensitive areas.
Meanwhile, state legislators promoted policies to encourage renewable energy development, repower old and shuttered plants, and improve protections for in-state generators during the legislative session. Members passed three bills incentivizing residential and commercial solar panel installation before adjourning this week. Two of the bills expand existing tax credits and real-property tax abatement for homeowners who install solar panels; a third creates a tax exemption for the sale and installation of commercial solar energy equipment. Other measures, aimed at blocking the use of eminent domain for out-of-state utilities, expanding wind power generation, and blocking fracking in the Marcellus Shale, failed.
When it comes to energy policy, New York remains at a crossroads: The state must meet growing demand, encourage in-state power production, and invest in electric transmission infrastructure to enhance and replace an aging system. We need to pursue policies that prioritize innovation, competitive markets, regional economic clusters, and in-state power generation to get beyond boom and bust policies.