Environmental groups and labor unions this month are pushing the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to adopt more than 1,500 megawatts for projects in order to meet the goals set under the new clean energy standard. 

Not doing so would create a "tale of two grids" in New York — as upstate power producers are on track for the goals set under a measure meant to shift the state to cleanr energy in the coming years, while the downstate region still has a ways to go. 

"Furthermore, the fossil fuel power plants that generate nearly all of the in-city electricity generation in New York City are predominantly located in environmental justice communities," the groups warned in the letter. "Thus, the 'Tale of Two Grids,' causes the entire downstate region to have a more polluting power supply, and the location of the power plants tends to concentrate that poor air quality in lower income communities and communities of color."

Signing onto the letter included the New York League of Conservation Voters, the Nature Conservancy and the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, as well as unions like the Building and Construction Trades Council. 

Regulators at the Public Service Commission had created a tier of energy projects that allows the authority to approve up to 3,000 megawatts in total for the program. But the PSC also backed only 1,500 megawatts in the first round of solitications. 

Environmental organizations argue there's such an urgent need for clean power in the New York City area that the authority should go higher than the 1,500 megawatts, and potentially go as high as 3,000. 

"Taking these actions will not only accelerate a shift to renewable energy for New York City, but will also provide much needed relief in the portions of New York that do not meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which are concentrated in New York City, and the communities that host polluting power sources," the groups wrote.