January 13, 2021
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Good morning. This week we have been laying out a comprehensive plan to win the COVID war and excel in the post-COVID war reconstruction. Our post-COVID war reconstruction will need to both adjust to the changes in the market economy, which are inevitable, and to target specific opportunities that we can anticipate in the new economic landscape.
Those abilities will determine our long-term economic success.
We will see a global competition among governments to develop economies that quickly adjust to the new post-COVID reality and New York State must win that competition.
Let us discuss today a major targeted opportunity. A new economic engine that is future-oriented, that is essential to our survival, and that has potential to benefit generations to come. That is the energy transformation to renewables—a new green energy economy.
This nation and the world are beyond the debate of whether climate change is real and whether “green is good”.
Our planet is in crisis. By every metric it is clear: Sea levels are rising; ice caps are shrinking; California is burning; the Arctic is melting; deserts are flooding. We have a once in a 100-year storm happening twice a year. 2020 was tied as the hottest year in history.
Nature is telling us, “do something or I will.”
Today, virtually every thinking person understands this reality.
But yet, the world watches, frets, laments, advocates – but does little.
Politicians for years have spoken about a green economy. International accords discussed expectations and aspirations for a green economy. Groups have proposed campaigns and think tanks have issued position papers. Legislatures have mandated goals.
But it is the means that matter. It is harder done than said – and that’s why so little has been done and so much has been said.
As is true in so many major issues of our time, the challenge is to close the societal and governmental gap between aspirations and accomplishment, between rhetoric and reality, between saying and doing. Offering hope of a tomorrow that never comes is one of the main causes of our social unrest and distrust in government. We are just not making enough actual progress.
Why? Because change is hard.
The concept of change is interesting. We often think that we want change – the idea of change can be appealing; it can even be alluring. But in reality, change is threatening and change is disruptive.
Change requires discipline and commitment. Change is even difficult on the individual level. How many of us have already broken our New Year’s resolutions?
Collective change, social change, is incredibly difficult. Massive change is near impossible.
But once in a lifetime, the stars line up, the forces align and there is a chance for change — change that is meaningful, and radical, and positive.
Today I believe the stars are in line for real progress if we connect the dots.
As the world economy resets, and as change is a necessity, there is an opportunity to raise our efforts to the next level – and New York should seize this moment.
We can establish ourselves as the nation’s leader for renewable energy innovation and production. And we will secure the jobs of the future right here at home for New Yorkers.
A true transformation to a green economy must create a complete green energy system to replace the old carbon based supply. To do that, we must have new alternative energy supplies that are able to reach scale. Candles cannot power the future. Piecemeal, episodic or incidental efforts will fail. We need a transformative green energy system that can sustain itself and the state’s need. This involves four main components.
First, we must identify and start building enough projects that will generate sufficient clean energy to reliably support all of our energy needs.
Second, we must stop relying on other countries’ economies to fuel ours. We must stop importing the green technology and equipment from other nations, and we need to create the manufacturing capacity here in New York. To do that we must develop a steady flow of projects to start up and sustain those new businesses.
Third, we must build the transmission capacity to connect the places where the renewable energy can be generated with the places where the energy is consumed. In our state, that distance is hundreds of miles.
Fourth, we must train and educate a workforce to meet the demands of the industry. We also need to create the research and development capacity that will allow green businesses to compete and win on the global stage.
All four elements must be simultaneous and synchronized in order to achieve scale and a viable system. That is our challenge and that is what we must do.
We begin by announcing today a bold $26 billion public-private sector partnership to build nearly 100 renewable projects.
We have anticipated already the post-COVID opportunity and we’ve already started work. Our program provides a diversity of project styles and locations. 68 of those projects have been commenced, including 52 solar projects, 13 on-shore and three offshore wind projects.
These projects include the 20-megawatt solar project in Saratoga; a 20-megawatt solar project in Cortland; a 180-megawatt solar project in Livingston; a 78-megawatt wind project in Lewis County; as well as an awesome 816-megawatt wind project 20 miles off the shore of Long Island and an 880 megawatt wind project 30 miles off Montauk Point.
Today, we’re announcing 24 more projects, including a 20-megawatt solar project in Washington County, a 200-megawatt solar project in Orleans, a 250-megwatt solar project in Montgomery, and a 90-megawatt solar project in Franklin County.
These projects will not only create power but bring needed economic opportunity to the struggling parts of our state. They will be accelerated by a new siting process and create nearly 11,000 jobs in upstate New York alone.
We are also proposing the largest wind programs in the nation. Today we begin development of two massive offshore wind farms, each more than 90 turbines off the shore of Long Island. They’ll be located more than 20 miles off Jones Beach and located more than 60 miles off Montauk Point respectively. Don’t worry – neither will be visible from the shore. They will provide about 2,500 megawatts. This is the largest production of renewable energy by any state in the United States history.
The transmission line for the turbines off Jones Beach will connect on land at Oceanside, Long Island, and for the turbines off Montauk the transmission line will travel 200 miles under the Long Island Sound to Astoria, Queens.
Second, we will advance our green manufacturing capacity and the jobs that go with it. We will establish the nation’s first offshore wind tower manufacturing facility at the Port of Albany, transforming a brownfield into a state of the art factory for wind towers.
The project will create 500 construction jobs and will employ 300 highly skilled fulltime workers. They will build 150 of these 450-foot wind turbine towers every year.
Materials will be delivered by rail and the finished product will be shipped out by river to offshore sites. Taking advantage of a fast paced and growing market like the East Coast, the Capital District will become a center for this emerging technology, and we will establish an offshore wind turbine hub at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, creating 1,200 jobs.
With this plan, New York State will now have five active port facilities serving the offshore wind industry, more than any other state. These new ports will create 2,600 long- and short-term jobs and leverage almost $3 of private funding for every $1 of public funding, a combined $644 million investment in port facilities.
Altogether, our offshore wind and land-based renewable projects will reduce carbon emissions by almost 16 million metric tons per year, attract nearly $26 billion in direct investment and create over 17,000 good-paying jobs. This will help stimulate the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic, while leading the way to the new green energy economy.
The historic and compounding challenge in New York has been sending the renewable energy from where it can be produced to where it is needed, literally getting from here to there.
Much of the available real estate for renewable projects is in upstate New York. Many of the potential wind projects are offshore while much of the consumer need is in downstate New York. For perspective, from Times Square, New York City to Buffalo, is 374 miles. From Times Square to Binghamton, is 178 miles, and from Times Square to Canada, which possesses low cost hydropower, is 327 miles. On the other hand, the distance from a wind turbine located in the Atlantic to Times Square is only 30 miles as the crow flies. However, a transmission cable doesn’t follow the path that the crow flies. These are dense, complicated, populated regions. Building transmission capacity is not as easy as it sounds and it has historically been the single greatest stumbling block.
These obstacles may have been too much to take on yesterday but today is a new day and what was impossible yesterday is a necessity today. New Yorkers learned that fact through COVID. Operating businesses and schools remotely was impossible to fathom last year but today it is an accepted practice. Business meetings on Zoom was unheard of but now it’s customary. Massive change is possible.
Politicians have talked for 60 years about developing transmission lines to bring clean, low-cost renewable energy from upstate and hydropower from Canada to downstate New York, but it never became a reality. It was too bold, it was too ambitious, it was too complicated, it was just too much. Well, not anymore, and enough talking – it’s time for us to now act.
Today we are opening a competitive bidding process to build a green transmission grid, selecting the best transmission projects for State financing. We are launching a competition for at least three projects. One would start at the Northeast corner of the state and run downstate to New York City, a route of about some 330 miles.
Another would add capacity from Massena through Marcy to Rock Tavern, in Orange County, and then build a new line underground to carry the power 70 miles to New York City. We’re also working on a line from Leeds, in Greene County, to New York City. We are open to more proposals besides these three, and we’re asking the market to come up with creative solutions.
Time is of the essence so time to completion is going to be a critical factor in our competitions.
To break the current grid congestion, which is a major problem, we will build an 86-mile Smart Path project in the North Country; 20 miles of transmission in Western New York to maximize the renewable energy output from Niagara Falls to Elma in Erie County; a 100-mile line from Marcy to New Scotland in Albany County, and a 50-mile transmission line from Rensselaer County to Dutchess County. All of these projects will break the congestion, open the grid, and all of these projects will break ground this year.
Our new energy superhighway will then be optimized by a state-of-the-art battery storage facility. Batteries will allow us to store renewable energy to be used when we need it instead of losing it. The technology is being developed right here in Upstate New York. We have already begun construction on a large-scale, 20-megawatt energy battery storage project in Franklin County in Northern New York, one of the largest storage projects in the United States of America. These projects will allow us to meet the electricity demands of 1.2 million New York homes with renewable energy.
This, my friends, is the boldest investment in any transmission system in the country. And in New York, we know that we can get it done.
We must replace fossil fuel plants with clean power. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it, and now is the time to do it.
The final element of our energy transformation is a trained, diverse workforce. We are leveraging our public higher education system by investing $20 million in a new Offshore Wind Training Institute at SUNY Stony Brook and Farmingdale State College that will begin certifying and training individuals this year. We will train 2,500 workers beginning in the summer of 2021. But we won’t only be training for wind and solar projects. The evolution to green energy will involve replacing home heating and cooling systems in approximately 130,000 buildings with heat pumps and geothermal heating. We will train workers for those positions also.
In our post COVID reconstruction, we want to make sure economic opportunity reaches all New Yorkers.
The tide must lift all boats and environmental justice must be done. As we’ve seen in America’s low tide, our communities of color were the most impacted by COVID and the underlying health disparities also aggravated the deaths from COVID. The same has been true with environmental injustice. Communities of color have borne the brunt of dirty power plants and harmful emissions. This has led to higher rates of asthma and other adverse health effects. Many of those effects actually were the causes of the increased death rates from COVID.
Our green economy must also work for people of color.
Our plan requires our new projects to meet our MWBE goals – Minority and Women Business Enterprise inclusion measures. Our goals are the highest in the nation, and we will also require prevailing wage and project labor agreements.
We will ensure all New Yorkers benefit from our green energy plan. It’s a matter of basic social justice.
In total, our entire green energy program will create 12,400 megawatts of green power to power 6 million homes. It will directly create 50,000 jobs, and spur $29 billion in private investment all across the state. That, my friends, is how we launch ourselves into the new post-COVID economy.
In sum, in the post-COVID war reconstruction we will see change and we will see adaptation to new circumstances, but we can already anticipate and execute to find places to our advantage.
Green energy is a prime economic opportunity and a pressing moral imperative.
When the founding fathers created this country, they highlighted a single authority. Quote, “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,” close quote. We can respect those same laws, and in doing so, leave an even better legacy for our children than the one we inherited.
We just have to do it. Life is in the doing.
Let others only plan. We will plan and we will execute. That’s what we do.
We did not just plan to build a new LaGuardia Airport, we did it.
We did not just plan to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge, we did it.
We did not just plan to rebuild our upstate airports, we did it.
We did not just plan to build a new State Fair, we did it.
We did not just plan to build a new Moynihan Train Hall, we did it.
The key to New York’s success is that, yes, we are a state of dreamers, but we are dreamers who have the ability to turn those dreams into reality.
That’s what makes us special. That is our special talent.
That is what makes New York, New York, and that is what sets us apart from everyone else and everywhere else.
That special ability, that talent, that allows us to build New York better than any place on this globe, and gives us the ability to build a new New York that is better than any that has come before.
Together, that is exactly what we will do. Thank you.