Included in the recently passed state budget was the Build Public Renewables Act, which will allow the government-operated New York Power Authority to develop and distribute renewable energy across the state.

Justin Driscoll, the authority’s acting president and CEO, told Capital Tonight that the legislation will allow them to address the “tale of two grids” where New York City is “overdependent” on fossil fuels and there is an “abundance of renewables” in Upstate New York.

Under the Build Public Renewables Act, the Power Authority will plan, construct and operate renewable energy projects in support of the state’s climate goals, which are outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. It passed in 2019 and requires the state to get 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

The New York Power Authority is the largest state power organization in the country. The authority provides power from a variety of sources, including hydro power from the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project in the North Country.

The power generated by NYPA facilities helps power public entities like Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and other public facilities. Driscoll argues the power system is in the “midst of one of the biggest transformations and buildouts of the transmission system in over 40 or 50 years,” and added that without a significant build out, the transition to renewable energy and electrification wouldn’t be successful.

Driscoll says the current system in New York is a “tale of two grids” with New York City overdependent on fossil fuels and Upstate New York having an abundance of renewable energy.

Time will tell where and when new projects are needed, but Driscoll argues NYPA will be “sensitive” to the needs and concerns of the agricultural community as they move forward with projects.