Chapter Policy on Renewable Energy (2021)

As early as 2013, the Atlantic Chapter Executive Committee adopted the following resolution: The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter supports the goal that New York State be fully powered by New York renewable energy sources of wind, water and solar by 2030.

Since that time, the Chapter, its members and Sierra Club staff assigned to New York State have participated in many aspects of developing the State’s energy policy.

Actions by former Governor Cuomo, the Long Island Power Authority and the State Legislature have done much to address renewable energy in the electric sector, which is responsible for approximately 20% of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A brief history follows:

  • In 2015, the State Energy Plan’s recommended adopting a goal of 50% of the State’s electricity being produced by renewable energy by 2030. Gov. Cuomo then directed that the target be made enforceable. In 2016 the Public Service Commission issued an Order on the Clean Energy Standard establishing a mechanism to implement the “50 by 30” target, as well as reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and increase energy efficiency in buildings.
  • By 2019, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) was passed by large margins in both the NYS Senate and Assembly, and signed by Gov. Cuomo enacting it into law. The CLCPA further increased the renewable energy goal to providing at least 70% of the NYS electric load in 2030 (“70 by 30 Target”). The law also required a 100 percent carbon-free electricity sector by 2040.
  • In 2020, the NYS legislature adopted by wide margins the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, establishing the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) to shorten the approval of large-scale renewable energy projects.  

New York needs further action concerning the transportation sector, which provides approximately 35% of New York’s GHG emissions, and the heating and cooling sector which emits more than 40% of the State’s emissions.

The electrification of all energy sectors in the State (also including manufacturing, agriculture, etc.) is a goal of our Chapter. This will be necessary to achieve our State’s emission reduction targets and to curtail human-caused climate change. 

The safe level of 350 parts per million (350 ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2)in the atmosphere has been surpassed, and CO2 levels are 415 ppm in February 2021.