Where Will You Be When the Lights Go Out?

Dedicated to Ensuring that New York State’s Lights Stay On Despite the Best Efforts of our Politicians to do Otherwise.

The Dark Future
Of New York Energy

Richard Ellenbogen      1-12-2022
This is the unabridged version of the article that recently appeared in print.

There are two major problems with it.  First, within its 861 pages it does not provide for a way to pay for it.  More importantly, it does not provide for a viable plan to execute the transition.  In the interim, NY State is decertifying existing generating plants without a viable plan B.  This is going to end badly.  I write this as a father who has a twenty-three-year history of decarbonizing my business and my home with my children’s futures in mind.   Along the way, I have fought with utilities, zoning boards, designed many of the systems myself and ultimately realized my goals of cleaner and more cost-effective energy.  It is from that perspective that I am pointing out the significant shortcomings of the state’s plans that will dramatically delay carbon reductions and proposing cost effective alternatives that will accelerate carbon reductions.  

A Historical Perspective Viewed from Over More Than Two Decades

Twenty-three years ago, I was expanding my factory, tripling its floor area, and completely overhauling the facility. As my wife and I were expecting our first child, it raised my social consciousness and forced me to think more long term. I was determined to make the new facility as environmentally friendly as possible. I had been an electrical engineer in the Power Systems Laboratory at Bell Labs prior to transitioning to manufacturing. Having anecdotally seen the effects of climate change during my life, I wanted to ensure that the new factory would do as much to mitigate its effect on the environment as possible. Using years of experience, plans were made to install a cogeneration system (CHP – Combined Heat & Power) and a solar array, although solar was prohibitively expensive in 1999.

Negotiations started with Con Ed regarding the CHP system in early 2000. As the technology was extremely new, Con Ed made us jump through hoops to get the approvals needed and we have three levels of safety equipment between the system and the utility. Newer systems only have one. Installation started in 2002 and was completed in early 2003 and the system was commissioned. It was the first grid connected micro-turbine system in the Con Ed service area. The CHP System allows us to use 70% to 75% of the energy content of the natural gas that we combust, as opposed to a maximum net usage of about 50% when the utility burns it in a new generating plant. Additionally, because we are generating the electricity where it is used, we eliminate the 7% of loss that occurs on the utility’s transmission and distribution system, thus achieving about a 30% improvement in energy efficiency. The heat byproducts from the CHP System are used to heat our facility during the winter and cool it during the summer. Because we have a lot of machinery that emits heat in the facility, our cooling season is long and allows us to recover the waste heat throughout the year.

In 2007, we installed the first commercial solar array in New Rochelle. One of the problems with being an early adopter is the municipalities often do not know their own regulations. New Rochelle gave us a permit to install the array and then said, “Oops. This requires the approval of the planning board.”  That was an issue because the array components had already been placed by crane onto the roof. Fortunately, the planning board allowed the project to proceed and by October 2007, the factory was generating onsite about 70% – 80% of the electricity used in the building. The larger facility used the same amount of energy as the initial building that was one-third of the size and had far less equipment in it. Additionally, the larger facility provided the space to implement a full recycling/repurposing program with none of our industrial byproducts being sent to a landfill. 100% is recycled or repurposed.

By 2008, we again ran into the early adopter issue. When the NY State Legislature passed the solar net metering laws, Con Ed told us that their tariffs would not allow us to interconnect under the net metering tariff because we had the generator. Even though we would only be exporting enough solar energy to power a few homes on our block, Con Ed’s tariff would charge us the same rates for exported solar energy as the Indian Point Nuclear Plant that powered most of NY City. I offered to find a compromise where we would only export solar energy on weekends when we were closed. When Con Ed remained intransigent on that point, I filed a tariff petition before the NY State Public Service Commission (PSC). Con Ed’s argument was that it would have been prohibitively expensive to meter the interconnection.  However, after six months, the PSC sided with my company. By May 2009, the Public Service Commission had ruled that not only could we export excess solar energy on weekends, but we could do it any time that we had an excess beyond our building’s usage. A Con Ed engineer, Mort Kevelson, produced an ingenious metering scheme and for about $400 and an hour of my time wiring it, we were interconnected and legally exporting our excess solar energy. We were the first facility in NY State to have multiple sources of high efficiency generation interconnected to the utility grid and Con Ed has a renewable interconnection solution named after my company, Allied Converters.

For nearly two decades, at both my home and my business, I have been living far down the road that the state is about to travel.  Since 2007, the business has been operating with a carbon footprint 30% to 40% lower than the utility system. The larger disparity is more recent as NY State’s carbon footprint went up after the closing of the Indian Point Nuclear plant, making our lower carbon footprint even more important. Additionally, the large amount of energy that we generate locally frees up transmission capacity for other users. An additional benefit is that our energy bills are one third of what they would have been had we not installed all that technology. It allows us to manufacture cost effectively in an area with the second highest energy prices in the United States. Technology installed during our energy transition allowed us to collect data that was provided to the Public Service Commission and resulted in a utility conference. As a result of that conference, the New York Independent System Operator( NYISO) is saving thousands of megawatt hours of energy and millions of dollars annually on their transmission system.

Because of the existing tariffs, we are not allowed to add any additional renewable generation. To do so would require us to leave the grid entirely. Unfortunately, that option is starting to look like more of a reality because of decisions being made by the governments in Albany and New York City. While well intentioned, politicians are acting with a lack of knowledge and an overabundance of emotion. They are passing regulations that are going to lead to major energy shortages and will ultimately result in extended blackouts, deaths, and large amounts of property damage.

The State’s Plan

When the gas moratorium started in Westchester in 2019, I was reading about all these claims by proponents of the moratorium that heat pumps would be our salvation. Having built my own home in 2002 – 2004 using a dual heating system that primarily relies on three geothermal heat pumps driving a high mass radiant heating system, I was very familiar with the math behind heat pumps.  Additionally, a large solar array generates about 20% of our electricity at my home. Because we have electric heat, even though it is the most efficient heating system possible, we still use more electricity than a normal gas heated home. Charging an electric vehicle also adds to that load.

What I was reading about the claims of the heat pumps proponents defied physics and mathematical reality. Having been busy with my business, I had always assumed that the “experts” pushing a full renewable grid by 2040 – 2050 had done their homework. These claims that I was reading led me to rethink my complacency and I started to inventory the state’s energy usage for the Business Council of Westchester, of which my company is a member. What I found both depressed me and angered me.  I have been presenting the data to some of the highest-level officials in NY State and their staff. None of them have told me that my numbers are incorrect, just that they will install renewables faster than I am calculating, except I am using their installation numbers in my calculations.

NY State’s plan calls for closure of all the fossil fuel generating plants by 2040 and calls for using batteries and renewable generation to power the entire system. It is a fantasy. Not only will they not have enough renewable generation to offset the existing fossil fuel electric load, but their plans also call for radical increases in electric load being added to a system that already will not have enough. They will not have the excess energy to charge the batteries. When I brought this up to people at the state, they sent me reports that they were using to justify their plan that had slides with so many errors in them that had I presented that kind of work to my superiors at Bell Labs, they might have fired me. But this fuzzy math is being used to justify power plant closures with no viable Plan B when the idea implodes on itself. People are going to freeze to death and die during a cold NY winter because of this, just as they did in Texas during February 2021 during their energy shortages. That resulted in between 200 and 700 deaths and $195 billion in property damage in just 17 days. A recent study of the effects of power failures in Florida caused by Hurricane Irma found a 25% increase in nursing home deaths in the following months related to the power failures. Our society runs on energy and while no one wants to combust any more fossil fuels than absolutely necessary, this blind push to eliminate them entirely in a haphazard manner is going to end badly.

The Issues and Why the State’s Plan Will Not Work

The following paragraphs are going to get a little into the weeds with energy math to explain the problem, but I will try to keep it as understandable as possible.  All of the numbers appearing in this document are the result of extensive calculations that can be made available.  It would be wonderful if the state would fully explain the numbers that they are using to justify this fantasy because what I have seen so far is a smoke screen.

One of the things that I have seen with this push to add renewables is that all the articles talk about how many Gigawatts are being added each year. My personal belief is that we should add as much renewable generation as possible, but we must stay grounded in reality because a Gigawatt of Power generation from renewables on the “new” system is different from a gigawatt of generation from a fossil fuel or nuclear plant on the existing system.    Power is measured in Kilowatts, Megawatts, Gigawatts, etc. Each measurement is one thousand times larger than the prior one. Energy is measured in Power multiplied by time, resulting in the terms “kilowatt hours” or KWh that you see on your utility bill, Megawatt-Hours or Gigawatt-Hours. The amount of power available will determine how much equipment you can operate at any one time but the amount of energy available will determine how long that equipment will operate.

The difference between fossil fuel or nuclear generation and renewable generation is measured by “Capacity Factor” (CF). Where a fossil fuel or nuclear plant operates about 95% of the time for a CF= 0.95, a solar array in NY State only operates an average of 12% of the time for an CF=0.12. Land based wind has a CF=0.3 and Ocean based Offshore Wind has a CF=0.46. The results of those differences on the utility system are profound.

A Two-Gigawatt nuclear plant will generate 2 GW x 365 days x 24 hours x 0.95 SF = 16,644 Gigawatt hours of energy annually. That was the output of the recently closed 2-Gigawatt Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.

A Two-Gigawatt Solar Array will generate 2 GW x 365 days x 24 hours x 0.12 SF = 2,102 Gigawatt Hours annually, or one-eighth as much energy.

You can install 9 Gigawatts of wind turbines but if there are low wind speeds, their output is far below the 9 Gigawatts. This recently happened in Europe, which is far ahead of us when it comes to wind turbine installation. When a high-pressure weather system with low wind speeds settled over Northern Europe, they did not have enough energy to operate many businesses and homes. Similar events have happened in California with their rolling blackouts in 2021 and in Texas, which gets about 25% of their electric energy from wind. In August of 2019, they came within a few megawatts of a major failure. This reality is undoubtedly why the European Union is now recognizing that nuclear and gas remain critical to successfully decarbonizing the electric grid.

Determining the Annual Shortfall in NY State’s Energy Under the Proposed Plans

All energy has numerical equivalents so that the energy contained in a therm of natural gas can be converted to an electrical equivalent in kilowatt hours. The same is true of oil or any other fuel. By inventorying the amount of fossil fuels used in NY State each year, we can convert that to its electrical equivalent which is essential if we are going to expect everything to operate on electricity. If the comparative efficiencies of the fossil fuel device versus its electrical equivalent are then figured in, we can figure out how much electrical energy will be needed to offset the fossil fuels being consumed.

If all the state’s goals for renewable generation are installed by 2040 – 2050, they will still be about one hundred thousand Gigawatt hours (100 Terawatt hours) short, on an annual basis, of what they need to meet their fossil fuel reduction goals, and that is a BIG if. If someone reads their plan, it will require covering at least four hundred square miles of upstate farmland, about 4% of all farmlands in the state, with solar panels. The plan calls for 10 Gigawatts of solar installation downstate and 6 Gigawatts of Quebec Hydropower.

These ambitious plans are being done in an environment where every project is facing extensive delays or termination because of a NIMBY mindset. The state wants to install 10 Gigawatts of downstate solar when a 2-megawatt array (1/5000th as much) could not even be built in Greenburgh, NY in 2019. A 1.2 Gigawatt buried power cable designed to bring hydropower from Quebec to Queens has been tied up for over seven years in litigation, but the state wants to install that one plus five more in the next eighteen years. It now may be operational in 2025, twelve years after it was first proposed.  A 700-page report was recently done for NY State that says that even if they can install the 9 Gigawatts of offshore wind in the Atlantic Ocean, they may only be able to interconnect half to two thirds of that via undersea cables because of space limitations in the Narrows. That would require putting land-based cables across Long Island when Wainscott, a wealthy Long Island town with a lot of lawyers, is vigorously fighting an underground cable from the Offshore wind farm there.  Even if the state passes regulations that attempt to limit home rule regarding renewable installations, it will not stop the lawsuits that will add extensive delays to these projects. This has been going on in NY State since the 1960’s when the organization that would eventually evolve into Riverkeeper successfully fought Con Ed on the installation of a pumped storage facility at Storm King Mountain along the Hudson River. After 17 years of litigation, Con Ed abandoned the project. That continued in 2011 when almost all the counties along the Great Lakes voted to block Project GLOW (Great Lakes Offshore Wind). It was never built. Independent of the legal arguments against either project or their logistics, NY State would be far closer to its realization of a renewable grid if the Great Lakes Wind Farms and the 850 Megawatt pumped storage facility existed.

Beyond the generation issues, the transmission issues, and the NIMBY issues are the Storage issues. If the generation is operating less than 50% of the time, then enormous amounts of storage are going to be needed to provide energy when the generation is not operating. The state’s plan calls for 9 Gigawatts of storage by 2040. That is not a typo for those that understand power and energy.  Everyone on the planet rates storage in units of energy, such as Amp-hours or watt-hours with a unit of time included.  NY State is using a power rating that is misleading, either by design or a lack of understanding.    An example of the momentous challenge faced by NY State with the energy storage issue is demonstrated in the following paragraph.

As of July 2021, a large-scale utility grade battery system cost approximately $280 per kilowatt-hour or $28,000 per one hundred Kilowatt-Hours. One million of those systems would cost $28 billion and at the peak load of 9 Gigawatts that the state has specified, they would operate for only 11 hours. Heat waves and cold snaps in NY State can last for days or weeks so 11 hours is totally insufficient. Further, the State’s Plan will not even provide enough energy to run the system, let alone have extra to charge batteries.  Also, having spoken with utility engineers, the $280 per Kilowatt-hour Is a national average and costs in the New York Metropolitan area would likely be at least three times higher than that by the time that the land was purchased, the system was installed, and the interconnection completed, bringing the cost to over $80 billion.  A One-Gigawatt Nuclear reactor costs $9 billion to construct and will operate 95% of the year.  So, for $80 billion, NY State can have 9 Gigawatts of batteries that would run for 11 hours at a time or 9 Gigawatts of nuclear that could operate 95% of the year.  Either way, the costs are staggering.

Additionally, batteries will require at least 20% additional energy above what is used by the utility customers to compensate for storage and transmission losses. The NY State Climate Action Council that is pushing this fantasy cannot figure out how to pay for it so they keep kicking the can down the road which is why there is not a means of financing the plan in their 800-page document.

1That is a fact that I find particularly galling as the 600-Megawatt, 350,000-volt Dunwoodie (Y50) underground cable that delivers power to much of Long Island, and possibly Wainscott, is located twenty feet in front of my factory and I have walked over it four times per day for the past 40 years. Out of curiosity, I measured the electromagnetic field strength on the street in front of my building and it is much higher under the 13,000-volt overhead cables across the street then over the 350,000-volt buried cable. Wealth is not a cure for ignorance.

Compounding the Problem

But while this mess is occurring out of the public eye, the NY City Council has banned gas hookups in new buildings below 7 floors in 2 years, all buildings in 7 years, and the car companies are going to stop producing Internal Combustion engine vehicles within 13 years and switch to Electric vehicles. NY State is not California.  While the use of heat pumps in Berkeley, California with its 60-degree average winter temperatures will result in a reduced carbon footprint, the same will not be true in New York with its 30-degree average temperatures where the heat pumps will use nearly twice as much energy for an equivalently sized unit. 

While it is necessary, the switch to electric cars will add at least 50,000 Gigawatt hours to the system and the new Clean Truck Regulations will add 30,000 Gigawatt hours to the system. That 80,000-Gigawatt Hours (GWh) is larger than the entire current fossil fuel generating load in NY State and more than double the capacity of the 9 Gigawatts of planned offshore wind. The 80,000 Gigawatt-Hours assumes a fully renewable system.  If fossil fuel generation is needed to support the vehicles, it will still require 80,000 Gigawatt-hours of utility load but the total energy use will increase to approximately 140,000 – 160,000 Gigawatt-Hours, about half of what is currently used by burning the fuel in the vehicles.  To put that amount of energy in perspective, the switch to electric vehicles will add five times the annual energy output of a 2-Gigawatt Nuclear Plant to the utility system. That 80,000 GWh additional load does not even account for the existing fossil fuel generating load of 72,000 Gigawatt hours that the state wants to replace or the increased electric load for any onsite heating that is going to be added because of the gas moratoriums or the new building regulations.

Additionally, there is a plan to install a bitcoin mining facility on Lake Ontario.  The Lake Mariner Bit Coin Mining Facility says that it will be powered by Hydroelectric Generation and provide two hundred jobs.  However, hydroelectric generation in NY State is finite as Niagara Falls is not an easily duplicated geographical feature.  All energy used by Lake Mariner will have to be compensated from other sources and will inevitably be driven by more fossil fuel generation.  They state that they will eventually reach five hundred Megawatts of load.  Assuming that the mining computers work around the clock for 365 days, that single facility will increase NY States current annual 135 Terawatt-Hour Load by 4,400 Gigawatt-Hours, over 3%, while providing only two hundred jobs.  It will use the equivalent of 16% of all of NY State’s Hydropower generation.  That corresponds to 2.2 Gigawatt-hours per job.  As a comparison, Cornell University in Ithaca with its approximately 15,000 employees and 25,000 students uses 244.2 Gigawatt-Hours, only 5% as much.  That equates to 6 Megawatt-hours per person or 0.3% as much per person.

The State has calculated that they will need to double their total 2020 nameplate generation capacity just to support the conversion to onsite heating.  However, even while acknowledging that they will need twice the amount of generation, they are simultaneously trying to decommission generating plants to appease a portion of the electorate that has no clue about the consequences of their desires. If the end results of these actions were not so horrific, these actions would almost be comedic, similar to the actions of the politicians in the recently released Netflix dark comedy, “Don’t Look Up.”

What is also being overlooked is that the life cycle of a solar array is about 25 years. Any arrays that are being installed now will be outputting about 25% less energy in 15 years so by the time that 2040 arrives, 20% of the installed arrays will just be replacing aging capacity and will not be adding capacity. The same is true of wind turbines.

NY State is not doing this in a vacuum. Other states are also embarking on similar projects. According to Offshorewind.biz, a website devoted to the offshore wind industry, as of 2019, only fifty-five of the sixty ships existed that would be needed to install 1.7 Gigawatts of Offshore Wind on the East Coast of the US.      

Ships take years to build and the Jones Act, enacted by Congress in 1920, requires that ships sailing from US Ports and working in US waters be built in the United States, precluding the use of foreign built ships that already exist for this type of work. So, there are only ships to install 1.7 Gigawatts for the entire East Coast when just NY State wants to install 9 GW, over five times as much.The acolytes of this plan want to convert six million homes in NY State to electricity overlooking the enormous costs of the equipment and the amount of skilled labor available.   Induction ranges can cost three to four times as much as a gas range.  The heat pump systems can cost $10,000 – $20,000 more than a gas heating system.  The cost of heating in the New York metro area, with the second highest electric rates in the country, can be twice as high using heat pumps.  That was reluctantly confirmed by engineers of NYSERDA during a discussion that I had with them in 2019

The state is going to need enormous amounts of money to upgrade transmission systems and to install a charging network for an electric vehicle surge that is going to occur beyond its control. It may also need billions of dollars to reinforce the bridges and roads in the state to manage the increased electric vehicle weights. Because of their batteries, EV’s can weigh significantly more than their gasoline powered counterparts. A Tesla Model 3 can weigh up to 1300 pounds more than a comparably sized Toyota Corolla. Funding all these projects is going to be an issue so costs will have to be considered and the available funds will have to be directed so that they achieve an optimal goal.

Additionally, the State is fighting the recertification of the NRG Power Plant in Queens and the Danskammer Power Plant in Newburgh. While the existing plants are a problem, the proposed reconfigured plants would be far cleaner and have greatly reduced levels of Sulphur Oxide Emissions (SOx) and Nitrogen Oxide emissions (NOx). NOx is a greenhouse gas almost one hundred times worse than Carbon Dioxide and four times worse than methane. The energy from those generating plants is going to be needed to power the electric vehicle fleet that is coming. Any remaining Greenhouse gas emissions from those plants will be more than offset by the reduction in Greenhouse gases achieved by switching to electric vehicles.

The obstacles to renewable generation installation at the scale that the state needs to achieve its plan will be insurmountable in the near term. The current state of the technology and the present mindset of too many NY residents will not support the plan’s implementation. 18 years until 2040 may seem like a long time but the systems in my factory have been operating longer than that and it seems as though they were installed yesterday. 18 years is also about the time span of the Storm King litigation that resulted in a failed energy project. It takes years to install any large-scale utility project of any type. That is even longer in NY State which has more lawyers per capita than any place in the United States except Washington, DC. The wind farm that was supposed to start operating in 2024 has been delayed until 2026. It was proposed in 2018. It will have taken 8 years to start operating after its inception and it is a small fraction of what the state needs to achieve their goals.

All Is Not Hopeless – There Are Solutions Available Using Existing Technology

Despite the issues presented previously, there are viable, cost-effective ways to greatly reduce NY State’s carbon footprint and to do it quickly if the ideologues get off their soap boxes and quit driving vote chasing politicians into making poor decisions.  NY State, in looking for the “perfect” solution is going to end up with ineffective solutions and far worse results.

Renewable generation should be installed as quickly as possible while recognizing that it will be insufficient to operate the entire system.  The conversion to 100% renewables has not worked well anywhere else and there is no reason to expect that New York has the magic solution when it is just duplicating efforts that have been tried in Germany for over 30 years without success.

The fastest way and the most cost-effective way to make NY State more energy efficient and to reduce its Greenhouse Gas footprint is to eliminate the most inefficient sources of fossil fuel combustion and those with the highest GHG output. Number one on the list is the internal combustion engine in cars which is only 22% efficient and also emits elevated levels of particulates and other chemicals at ground level that are a health hazard. Second are the diesel engines in trucks that are 33% efficient but have elevated levels of NOx emissions. Third are the older generating plants that are only about 33% efficient. Those can be replaced by combined cycle generating plants and achieve an immediate 17% improvement. Not allowing the conversion of those plants to the more efficient combined cycle plants will force the state to make a choice between not having enough energy or allowing the existing dirty plants to keep operating for many years into the future. 

Radiant electric baseboard heat should be replaced with heat pumps that will at a minimum, double the energy efficiency at those locations. Oil furnaces operate with about an 89% efficiency but they emit elevated levels of NOx so they should also be replaced as quickly as possible.  While heat pumps seem like a viable choice, that will overburden the electric utility system so gas will be a preferable alternative in the near term for the conversion.

The efficiencies of the energy users above can be compared to a new gas furnace that operates with an energy efficiency of 95% and very low NOx emissions. If there was enough electrical energy available to replace them, then it would be a good idea. But the state is not even going to come close. The lack of renewable generation and the lack of transmission capacity for a large, distributed generation system are going to be extremely inadequate for at least 50 years.

Instead of using limited resources to subsidize heat pumps to replace 95% efficient fossil fuel combustion, the state should focus those resources on expanding the woefully inadequate transmission and distribution systems that will be necessary to support any electrification effort. Efforts should be directed at supporting vehicle electrification efforts as that will be the fastest way to reduce GHG emissions. The vehicles will be arriving whether NY State is ready for them or not.  When the automakers stop producing internal combustion engine vehicles in the next thirteen years, there will not be a choice.  As the market shrinks, gas stations will start to disappear and owning a gasoline powered vehicle will become difficult.  Germany spent 30 years and enormous financial resources installing massive amounts of renewable generation and heat pumps and their efforts stalled well short of their goals because they did not mitigate energy usage and emissions in the transportation sector which has the highest emissions and is the most inefficient user of energy.  After 30 years, they were only able to convert 40% of their generation to renewables, in spite of the fact that they still have not experienced the increased load of vehicle electrification.  Germany recently acknowledged that they will be unable to complete a full transition off of fossil fuels in the near term and they are building multiple natural gas generating plants to offset increased load and the closing of their nuclear plants

Adding CHP Systems at viable locations, similar to the one at my factory, will greatly increase energy efficiency and simultaneously reduce the need for as much transmission capacity, while eliminating the 7% of energy lost on the transmission system related to the offset. The CHP System in our basement occupies about five hundred square feet and our neighbors do not even know that it is there so they do not complain about it. A solar array that would generate as much energy would occupy several acres, more than two hundred times as much space, and draw the ire of the neighbors. Our 12,000 square-foot, 50,000-watt solar array presently generates 50,000 Kilowatt-hours per year.  Our five hundred square foot CHP System can generate that amount of energy in 40 days, or nine times as much energy annually in about 4% of the space.  Additionally, the CHP Systems are cost effective and will need smaller state subsidies, if any, greatly reducing the program cost.  They are also not restricted by weather or time of day so they can provide energy during critical times.  Combining CHP Systems with rooftop solar arrays can free up transmission capacity that will be needed to support transportation electrification and greatly reduce Carbon output. 

Combining this method with vehicle electrification and the realistically available renewable generation could result in over a 50% reduction of the state’s carbon output.  By attempting to seek the perfect solution, the state will end up worse off than Germany and likely not even achieve a 35% reduction while simultaneously incurring far more debt.  A graph of possible NY State Carbon outputs appears at the end of the article, with and without various options, including 4 Gigawatts of installed CHP.

NIMBY’s and environmental groups should think long and hard about what they are protesting against.  Very often, the project that they are protesting will be the far lesser of the two evils than the alternative without it.  I have been living for forty years with a 350,000 volt buried power line twenty feet from one of my properties.  The alternative to that would be large amounts of Long Island without electricity.  I would guess that 95% of the people living on the block don’t even know that it is there.  The only time it becomes apparent is when they mark the street for excavation of a utility service and the asphalt starts to resemble a Jackson Pollock painting.  If we are to have a viable society with sufficient energy, people can’t say “No” to everything.

The solution is that there is no one solution.  A variety of technologies will be required to overcome this obstacle.  Wind turbines and solar arrays will play a part but they are not the sole answer.  Nor is onsite electric heating a viable solution at all locations given the state of the transmission system, available funding, and the imminent arrival of vehicle electrification.  Choices will have to be made.  Germany found that out the hard way.  NY State is not California.  Solutions that will work well there because of their unique climate are not always transferrable to New York with its much colder climate.  Implementation of those solutions will have unintended side effects.

Leaking natural gas lines in the streets are an issue but unless every user on the service is converted, it will have to stay active so those must be repaired. Once they are fixed, then they are not a problem so that eliminates much of the justification for terminating the service. Drilling practices at the wells must be improved to reduce methane loss but that is something that even the Union of Concerned Scientists says can be achieved. An American Geosciences Institute study was done that indicates that gas drilling sites release far less methane than oil drilling sites. Newer technology is available to help find leaks in pipes so that they can be repaired.

Beyond that, leaking methane is a plumbing issue and can be fixed. What NY State is proposing is a program that defies the Laws of Physics and that cannot be overcome.

Click image for larger view

Nothing on this website is intended to be used to support any effort against the installation of renewable generation or carbon free generation on the supply side. 

It should be installed as quickly and with as much capacity as logistics, economics, and local public sentiment will allow.  Climate change is real. 

Electric vehicles that can easily replace fossil fuel driven cars and trucks that account for over 50% of the state’s carbon emissions should also be adopted as quickly as possible.  However,  adding other equipment that will greatly increase the electric utility system load with much less improvement in rapid Greenhouse Gas Reduction should be avoided.

Those that are pushing the policy to electrify onsite heating and shutter or refuse permitting of high efficiency gas generating plants are sending the state down a dangerous and fatal path for its citizenry.  The utility system will simply not be able to handle it and  ignoring math, physics, economics, and the embedded NIMBY sentiments will not change the reality.