New York’s climate law requires the state to get 70% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

In order to get there, the state will need to start building large-scale renewables a lot faster than it has been.

When asked if the state will be able to meet its statutory deadline under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), Anne Reynolds, the executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, said, “It remains to be seen.”

However, she pointed out on Capital Tonight that there is good news. 

“New York has awarded over 100 contracts for renewable energy projects; but we have to get them to construction,” she said. 

According to New York Focus, New York is lagging behind states like California, Texas, New Mexico and Kansas when it comes to building large-scale renewable energy. At the same time, New York’s clean energy mandate is a lot more aggressive than those states.  

New York also has some other operational challenges.

“It used to be that our challenge was we didn’t have contracts or permits. There are still delays in permitting, so that’s one thing,” Reynolds stated. “There are also big delays in the interconnection process to get projects interconnected to the grid.”

What Reynolds is referring to is the connection between a new energy project and its link to the state’s energy grid, which is run by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). 

Ensuring a project can be made to connect to the grid is a painstaking process that includes a study of each project individually. Every new project (and there are more than ever before thanks to the CLCPA), needs to present its proprietary engineering plans to the NYISO. After that, NYISO runs a series of modeling programs to ensure that the new project gels with all the existing projects already connected to the grid. 

According to Reynolds, projects cannot start construction until they have an agreement from the grid operator that it’s OK to connect.  

“They have heard a lot from us about how the process needs to be faster,” Reynolds said of NYISO. 

Kevin Lanahan, vice president of external affairs and corporate communications at NYISO, told Capital Tonight that the interconnectivity includes a tremendous amount of information and engineering design because reliability is paramount.

“We’re doing everything we can to streamline the process, find efficiencies and also maintain the integrity of the process so that reliability is not sacrificed,” he said. “We do recognize how critical it is to move quickly.”