Gov. Andrew Cuomo is holding a ceremony today at the Capitol to sign the power plant siting bill that passed the Legislature in June.
The bill, called the Power New York Act, will establish a new Article X power plant siting law and create a panel to oversee the development of power-generating facilities in the state. The state has been without a new siting law since 2003.
Cuomo is expected to use the new law as a way to find alternative energy sources to the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, Westchester County, which Cuomo has vowed to close.
Efforts to establish a new siting law have stalled over the years, limiting the state’s ability to build new facilities, including ones with renewable energy sources like wind and solar. The new law would be “fuel neutral,” meaning any technology would be eligible to seek state approval for a plant.
“This law moves New York to forefront when it comes to limiting power plant pollution and combating climate change, providing much needed leadership in the face of Congressional inaction,” Assembly Energy Committee chairman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, said in a statement this morning. “The new siting process demonstrates that it is possible to protect the environment while encouraging economic development.”
Cahill said the law will require the state Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt carbon reduction regulations for new and current generating facilities.
A seven-person board will oversee the development of power plants in excess of 25 megawatts of energy, which would include wind farms and even some battery-storage facilities. The old law limited the board’s oversight to facilities with more than 60 megawatts of power, which often left to local communities to decide how to handle smaller power-plant projects.
Environmental groups have praised the deal in part because the DEC will write regulations that would define overdeveloped areas and require mitigation efforts should a project be sited in one of them. Also, power companies would have to pay for an “intervener fund” of up to $750,000 that could be used by local groups and others to study the effects of a power plant in their community, and also to fund legal bills.