Andrew Cuomo’s energy legacy for New York: Dark days ahead

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As of April 30, the Indian Point nuclear plant shuts down for good, thanks to yearslong pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo — leaving the state more reliant on power produced by burning natural gas, and making it far harder to reach Cuomo’s zero-carbon-emissions goal.

Unveiling his $26 billion clean energy, “clean economy” plan in January, Cuomo said, “We must replace fossil fuel plants with clean power.” Hmm. Indian Point accounted for 30 percent of the state’s carbon-free power production.

Cuomo aims to replace that (and, eventually, all fossil-fuel power) with wind, solar and hydroelectric plants, only the last of which is truly reliable.

The plan includes such expensive follies as:

  • Building an offshore wind power plant in the Port of Albany.
  • Creating nearly 100 renewable on- and off-shore wind farms and solar farms.
  • Building a green transmission grid to bring energy from upstate to New York City — and a line from upstate Massena to Orange County.
  • And building a new underground cable line to carry the power 70 miles to New York City.

In hindsight, his years-long campaign to harass Indian Point into closing was “fossil foolish.” The state’s gas-fired power plants will have to increase their output by almost a third just to cover the loss of electricity, adding to the carbon emissions he claims to hate.

The gov’s own (highly optimistic) alternative energy timetable doesn’t foresee New York reaching his goal of 70 percent renewable energy until 2030. And just last week, the feds nixed the planned leased sale of two wind farm sites off of the Hamptons due to . . . environmental concerns.

Then again, a state energy panel just put the kibosh on building new natural-gas plants — opening the door to lots of blackouts in the future if Cuomo’s wind and solar plans fall through. Then again, even new gas plants might be dicey, since Cuomo keeps nixing pipeline projects such as the $1 billion Constitution Pipeline, which would’ve shipped natural gas from Pennsylvania to New England and places in New York.

On top of it all, wind and solar plants cost a lot more per kilowatt-hour of generation. And they’re inherently unreliable, since the weather can devastate their output. Hydroelectric is great, but just about every available major site in the world already has a plant; output can’t grow significantly.

Such is Andrew Cuomo’s legacy for New York: vastly higher electric bills (only partly lowered by subsidies the taxpayers still must fund), much higher risks of blackouts — and not even any rapid gains in cutting carbon emissions.

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