Megan Carr’s Testimony in Support of New York State’s Build Public Renewables Act

Climate and Energy Justice, Environmental Justice, News, PEAK Coalition

Megan Carr virtually testifies to the New York State Legislature.

Good morning, my name is Megan Carr, and I’m a legal intern at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, known as NYLPI, and I am here today speaking for NYLPI and as a member of the PEAK Coalition. I’d like to thank the Assembly and the Speaker for holding this special hearing. I am calling on the Assembly to immediately pass the New York State Build Public Renewables Act, the BPRA, (A1466D), which is the best path forward for utilizing State authorities in the rapid development of renewable energy.

New York is in a climate crisis. In the days leading up to this hearing the New York City area has experienced unbearable heat. Our downstate power grid continues to be overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels – NYISO’s 2021 report shows that less than 3% of downstate energy production is renewable solar and wind. Continuing to rely on fossil fuels is an injustice on every level. It is an injustice to the frontline communities who live with fossil-fuel burning peaker plants in their backyards, whose health and quality of life is sacrificed to our continued dependence on fossil fuels. It is an injustice to all low-and moderate-income New Yorkers, who are at the will of an incredibly volatile fossil fuel market, resulting in New Yorkers paying 11-12% more for their utilities this summer.

By enabling the New York Power Authority, NYPA, to build and own renewable energy generation, the BPRA will ensure that the public sector leads the way in meeting the essential mandates of the CLCPA.

The BPRA will require NYPA to act with the speed and scale necessary to replace each of its fossil-fuel burning plants with renewable energy generation and storage by 2030, while prioritizing pollution reductions in disadvantaged communities that have been disproportionately harmed by fossil fuel infrastructure, pursuant to the CLCPA. The BPRA will also pave the way to replace large, privately owned fossil fuel-fired plants currently serving as intermittent “peaker plants” in NYC. Over the past decade, the owners of these plants have collected a staggering $4.5 billion in utility capacity payments just to keep these plants online. This is ratepayer money that could have been invested in utility-scale storage and renewable energy solutions.

The BPRA will make energy more affordable in New York State, where too many families are overburdened by utility costs. This bill will allow NYPA to sell any excess renewable energy directly to low or moderate income New Yorkers at 50% of the market rate.

The BPRA is a pro-worker bill. It requires that NYPA consult with effected unions and that the workers creating these renewable energy projects receive all the benefits and protections of public workers.  It unequivocally protects current NYPA employees, ensuring that no one’s rights or benefits, or terms and conditions of employment will be altered by the BPRA. For all of these reasons, NYLPI and the PEAK Coalition throw our support behind the New York State Build Public Renewables Act, and ask that this assembly immediately pass it. Please take this vital step away from fossil fuels, toward environmental justice, and an emission-free future.


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