It’s called the Build Public Renewables Act, which would enable the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to make the state an active participant within the energy market by providing power exclusively from renewable energy sources.

“New Yorkers across the state have seen the cost personally of being subject solely to monopoly energy companies such as Con Edison or NationalGrid or Central Hudson,” bill sponsor Zorhan Mamdani, Democratic Assemblymember from Queens, said. “And so what this bill would do is start the process by which we could have an alternative to those companies.”

The authority currently provides power to schools and public buildings, but the Build Public Renewables Act would expand that to homes and businesses. It would generate the power from renewable sources like solar and wind — capacity which does not yet exist. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Build Public Renewables failed to pass the Assembly the final week of the Albany legislative session

  • The Act would make the state an active participant in the energy market providing exclusively renewable energy to customers

  • A hearing on the bill have been scheduled for this summer

“Well, we would have to build out more,” lead sponsor of the bill and Democratic Assemblymember Robert Carroll of Brooklyn said. “But NYPA runs a bunch of hydro-electric dams that were built generations ago. So, it does have a large portfolio already of renewable energy. But we would have to build more.”

But critics said it’s just not feasible to rely so heavily on solar and wind in a state the size of New York.

“You can do that theoretically across whole United States if you can transport the power far enough,” James Haney of the conservative leaning Empire Center said. “The wind is always blowing somewhere, the sun is always shining somewhere across a continent-sized mass. But not across a New York sized territory where sometimes the weather systems we encounter are actually much bigger than the state.”

Supporters of the bill said getting the government further into the energy market as a provider will force for-profit companies to compete.

“And so what we need to do is build out into renewable energy but also ensure that the incentive in all that building is not simply profit, it’s that every New Yorker can get affordable energy. Because if it’s just profit then we can have a greener energy system, but it could still be just as expensive for New Yorkers or even more so,” Mamdani said.

The Renewables Act passed the state Senate but did not come up for a vote in the Assembly, prompting a rare post-session public explanation from Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who wrote in a statement, “We agree with the goals of the Build Public Renewables Act. The final version of the bill — amended two days prior to the scheduled close of our legislative session — had support in our conference, but not enough to move forward at this point.“

The Assembly is not dropping the matter. They have scheduled a public hearing for July 28th to get more input on the bill and determine its feasibility. The earliest it could be voted on again would be January when there is a new legislature.