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NYPA board OKs new strategic plan, as well as diversity and inclusion effort

December 11, 2020

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
December 11, 2020

The New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Board of Trustees on Dec. 8 approved a new strategic plan, VISION2030, which focuses on five strategic priorities to achieve the clean energy goals of NYPA’s customers and the state.

NYPA said that the strategic priorities to achieve the clean energy goals include NYPA’s intention to:

  • Partner with customers to deliver clean and affordable energy solutions;
  • Pioneer a path to decarbonization while ensuring reliability, resilience and affordability of the state’s electric grid;
  • Facilitate the rapid development of transmission assets;
  • Preserve the value of hydroelectric generation; and
  • Adaptively reimagine the New York State canal system

Partnering with customers

NYPA said that it will partner with its customers and the state to meet their individual energy goals in alignment with the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act “by providing clean and affordable energy, along with innovative, integrated customer solutions.”

NYPA will help its customers decarbonize by working with them to realize climate leadership projects in energy efficiency, renewables generation, optimized electrification and digitization. There will be a 70% renewable energy supply provided by 2030 in a cost-effective manner.

NYPA will also enable 325 megawatts of distributed and customer-sited solar by 2025 and facilitate 450 MW of storage projects by 2030.

In addition, NYPA noted that the transition to electric vehicles is being accelerated through the installation of charging stations for EV drivers, including chargers built for transit agencies to electrify buses, and through EVolve NY, NYPA’s public fast charging network.

Decarbonization

NYPA said that in order to lead the transition from natural gas to even cleaner electricity, it will be a first mover in developing and demonstrating new low-to-zero carbon technologies and short- and long-duration battery storage.

NYPA will evaluate the economic performance of its gas fleet “and pursue a collaborative approach with policy makers, community members and the private sector as it advocates for market rules and policies and aims to achieve zero-carbon emissions by 2035,” ahead of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040  goal. NYPA also will commit to supplying its customers with carbon-free electricity by 2035.

NYPA recently signed an agreement with environmental justice groups to assess how its natural gas-fired peaker plants, six in New York City and one on Long Island, can be transitioned to utilize clean energy technologies while continuing to meet the unique electricity reliability and resiliency requirements of New York City.

Potential siting of battery storage and hydrogen blending at the plants is under consideration.

Growing transmission to connect renewables

As part of VISION2030, NYPA aims to be the leading transmission developer, owner and operator for New York State.

Building new transmission infrastructure to move distant renewable energy resources is critical to the integration of renewables, such as land-based and off-shore wind and solar, into the bulk power system and achieving the goal of 70% renewable electricity by 2030, it said.

Three major projects to help the state meet its changing transmission needs are currently underway:

  • Replacement of the 86-mile-long Moses-Adirondack transmission lines that run from Massena to Croghan in the North Country. The $484 million SmartPath project will allow for greater transmission of energy from renewable sources;
  • Upgrade of the Marcy to New Scotland transmission line with LS Power Grid New York. The Mohawk Valley to Capital Region transmission line will relieve bottlenecks in high-voltage transmission and increase access to renewable energy sources;
  • Commencement of the Northern New York transmission initiative, the first priority transmission project under the 2020 Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act. In addition to unbottling existing renewable energy in the region, NYPA estimates the Northern New York project will result in cost savings, emissions reductions, and decreased transmission congestion.

Hydropower

NYPA said it will preserve and enhance the value of NYPA’s hydropower assets, which account for approximately 25 percent of New York State’s electricity, as a continued core source of carbon-free power and as a source of flexibility and resilience as the state’s grid evolves.

“Retaining assets in good repair, actively advocating for policy and market rules recognizing hydro benefits to the grid and evaluating alternative contracting or offtake arrangements will help optimize the benefit of hydropower for New Yorkers,” it said.

A 15-year, $1.1 billion life extension and modernization program, first announced in July 2019, is currently underway to significantly extend the operating life of NYPA’s flagship Niagara Power Project, one of the largest hydroelectric projects in the U.S.

Canals

Meanwhile, NYPA said it will continue to reinvigorate the New York State canal system primarily through the Reimagine the Canals initiative announced by Cuomo earlier this year. Simultaneously, NYPA and the Canal Corporation will work to ensure that these investments safeguard the Canal’s role as a driver of economic growth for New York State.

Priorities will be supported by four-year financial plan

The Authority said that the strategic priorities will be supported by NYPA’s recently approved four-year financial plan.

The financial plan includes five foundational pillars:

  • Becoming the first end-to-end digital utility;
  • Achieving best-in-class environmental, social and governance performance and reporting;
  • Establishing a leadership role in diversity, equity and inclusion priorities;
  • Bolstering enterprise resilience; and
  • Continuing progress with process excellence, workforce planning and knowledge management

Board approves diversity, equity and inclusion plan

In other action, the Board of Trustees at its Dec. 9 meeting, approved a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan that NYPA said will expand customer energy products and services in underserved and environmental justice communities to help customers lower utility costs and meet their environmental and sustainability goals.

The approvals support development, retention, promotion and engagement of staff through training, career and leadership programs, and support hiring of a workforce that reflects the diverse communities NYPA serves, the Authority said.

NYPA said that through the plan, students of color will have more opportunities to join and advance in the clean energy sector. A recent article in Public Power magazine also outlined NYPA’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in further detail.

Also, in order to further meet Cuomo’s goal for procuring at least 30% of products and services from minority and women owned businesses (MWBEs), NYPA will increase funding to its supplier diversity programs – through mentoring, outreach and education initiatives – to drive up participation of MWBEs in the organization’s supply chain.

Additional details on the plan are available here.

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