Spearville Wind Farm just north of the town of Spearville, in Ford County, Kansas.
Creating a cleaner and safer energy future in New York. © Jim Richardson

Stories in New York

New York Leads on Climate

Building a clean energy economy while protecting natural resources.

In response to the climate crisis, New York State has set ambitious goals to reduce carbon pollution, the driver of climate change, and create a cleaner and safer energy future. For the last several years, The Nature Conservancy in New York has worked closely with elected officials and partners to help realize the vision of a clean energy economy by supporting the responsible development of renewable energy. 

Collaborating for a Clean Energy Economy

This year, Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature enacted major changes to New York’s energy siting laws to expedite the development of new renewable energy projects. Under the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, the state will create a new permitting office, which will fast track large-scale renewable projects by identifying build-ready sites across the state and developing uniform standards and criteria for project permitting. These build-ready sites will give priority to low-impact areas, such as abandoned and underutilized industrial sites.  

Worker's clean solar panels for maximum efficiency at the power solar facility in Lancaster, California. Photo credit: © Dave Lauridsen
Working Together The Nature Conservancy in New York has worked closely with elected officials and partners to support the responsible development of renewable energy. © Dave Lauridsen

The Nature Conservancy reviewed the Governor’s initial proposal and worked with partners to ensure that as the siting laws changed, attention would be focused on evaluating and reducing impacts to our natural resources. The new law includes additional provisions to ensure reviews take environmental considerations into account when more rapidly building out the state’s renewable energy generation capacity and also creates a new Mitigation Banking Fund. 

The Strongest Climate Law in the United States

Last year, our New York policy team worked with lawmakers and partners to secure the passage of a new law that will drastically cut carbon pollution and safeguard New York’s ambitious clean energy program. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is the most aggressive climate law in the United States. It requires a carbon neutral economy by 2050, 70 percent renewable energy by 2030, and 100 percent emissions-free power by 2040. This law sets a precedent for the rest of the nation and will play a critical role in helping the U.S. meet its emissions reductions goals. The Nature Conservancy was proud to be part of this momentous achievement, which will create a cleaner, safer and more equitable New York for generations to come.

Beginning in 2018, The Nature Conservancy and the Defenders of Wildlife launched the Long Island Solar Roadmap to help accelerate local solar development by making it easier to install solar panel installations on low-impacts sites such as parking lots, large rooftops, and previously disturbed sites. This stakeholder-driven process includes county and town governments, communities, property owners, solar industry professionals and utilities. The roadmap, set to be published in the fall of 2020, will help drive solar development to areas that are most suitable and most in need of additional capacity.

Solar panels adjacent to an elementary school in Antelope Valley.
Siting Clean Energy We're working with many partners to identify areas to build New York's clean energy economy while protecting natural resources. © Dave Lauridsen for The Nature Conservancy

In 2016 and 2017, The Nature Conservancy and Alliance for Clean Energy New York brought together diverse stakeholders to identify obstacles to siting large-scale wind and solar power and develop strategies to overcome the hurdles. Based on their key findings, the Roundtable members agreed upon ten principles and a series of policy recommendations to reduce barriers to large-scale renewable energy siting while preserving New York’s vital natural, agricultural, and community resources. The Renewables on the Ground Roundtable was a collaboration among non-traditional partners—and use planners and conservationists, wind and solar developers, agricultural interests, regulators, and local and state government officials.

The Future of Renewable Energy in New York

To assist New York State in achieving both its carbon reduction and renewable energy goals, the New York Mitigation Team has launched a new statewide renewable energy siting initiative to identify the best locations to site clean energy projects across the state. We’re excited to build on our legacy of work fighting climate change while protecting our natural world.