The Photo News edition of last week published a piece on the New York Climate Action Council’s recently released report. The eyepopping 861-page scoping report, released for public comment, focuses on the perceived problems climate change will impose on New York and strategies to effect mitigation.
Lacking the patience and perseverance to digest the entire document, I selectively read sections of what I considered to be of most importance. The scoping document is an adjunct of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, Bill No. 56599 recently signed into law amending the Environmental Conservation Law. The goal of the new law is to generate 70% of statewide electricity via renewable energy by 2030 and render electric generation 100% carbon free by 2040.
Currently, only 28% of New York State electricity is from renewables, with 80% of that from hydroelectric. Following the oil shocks of the 1970s, the state embarked upon a plan to build a series of small hydro plants on those waterways remaining feasible for electric generation, with few if any remaining today. Therefore, the plan to wean the state from carbon emissions by 2040, relying on renewables, is not only grossly impractical, but probably impossible.
Currently, renewable energy technology is incapable of producing baseload electricity, i.e., reliable, 24/7 power throughout all weather conditions without utilizing nuclear power generation. Unfortunately, the state just lost the 2000 megawatts of the Indian Point Energy Center, a facility that energized much of Manhattan.
Lithium-ion battery technology, necessary for large, bulk storage of solar energy when the sun isn’t shining, is not suitably advanced, and without it, solar power is only intermittently available. Additionally, the huge footprint necessary for large scale solar energy would require enormous areas of real-estate. Wind turbines are also only intermittent producers of electricity, relying on wind speed variations throughout the day.
Also, how much will this enormous transfer of energy production in just a few short years cost? How much will taxes increase? Our changing climate is certainly a challenging concern. However, politicians and bureaucrats need to stop offering unrealistic and unworkable solutions.
Unfortunately, a large segment of the population is skeptical regarding the topic of climate change and I think will remain so until feasible, affordable plans are developed and presented in a sensible manner. How much of the public will sit down and read 861 pages of bureaucratic babble and then be willing to submit comments?
William E. Lemanski