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The Long Island Clean Electricity Vision
LONG ISLAND AT CRITICAL JUNCTURE: TIME FOR CLEAN ENERGY IS NOW!
Study Finds 100% Renewable Electricity Possible Now
Long Island is at a critical juncture in determining its energy future. In fact, our state-run electric utility, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), is at a crossroads, facing long-term power purchase decisions as many of the State Authority’s fossil fuel power purchase agreements expire in 2013. The Long Island Clean Electricity Vision began at a Long Island Energy Roundtable meeting, a gathering of environmental professionals, with a simple but bold question which challenges conventional thinking:
Could Long Island meet 100 percent of its electricity needs with energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies which are available today?
With funding from the Rauch Foundation and the Long Island Community Foundation, and support from partner organizations, Renewable Energy Long Island hired a consulting firm to help answer this critical question.
Synapse Energy Economics, a highly respected and experienced firm analyzing utility and energy issues nationwide, produced the study “A Long Island Clean Electricity Vision – Supplying 100% of Long Island’s Electricity Needs from Renewable Power”, finding that by the end this decade, we could meet 100% of residential electricity needs from clean, renewable power sources. By 2030, all of Long Island’s electricity could be carbon emission free, and 100% from renewable sources. (see the Study Summary below).
There is broad scientific consensus that in order to avoid irreversible effects from climate change, carbon concentrations in the atmosphere must be lowered significantly. Many leading climate scientist now recommend a limit of 350 parts per million by the year 2050, which would require a rapid switch to carbon free energy sources. Numerous governments, including New York State, have already established goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not just in the electricity but all sectors of their economies, 80% by 2050.
The move to a clean energy future at the beginning of the 21st century can be seen historically as a major paradigm shift and rapid retooling of infrastructure similar to the transition to the space age in the 1960s and widespread personal communication technology in the late 1990s.
We are not alone in this rethinking. Though this is the first study examining a 100% renewable energy future for Long Island, numerous other studies have come to similar conclusions for other regions. They include a 2012 National Renewable Energy Laboratory study for the entire U.S. (Renewable Electricity Futures Study http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/ ), a world-wide study by Jacobson/Delucchi (Stanford University) A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030, and a World Wildlife Fund study, The Energy Report – 100% Renewable Energy by 2050 http://www.panda.org/energyreport. And, many regions already have goals for 100% renewable energy, and some are well on their way or are already meeting these goals. Examples include Scotland and Denmark, as well as the cities of San Francisco, CA and Munich, Germany.
Long Island Clean Electricity Vision
Can Long Island meet 100 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy? In short: Yes.
The surprising answer comes from the Long Island Clean Electricity Vision (CEV) — a bold, visionary study1 commissioned by Renewable Energy Long Island (reLI) and member organizations of the Long Island Clean Energy Roundtable. The 2012 analysis, performed by Synapse Energy Economics,2 using cautious and often conservative assumptions,3 concludes that a clean energy transition could take place within two decades, at relatively modest cost and with significant benefits.
The major conclusions of the CEV study are:
The study compares the CEV scenario to a business-as-usual scenario based on the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) 2010 resource plan and data from the New York Independent System Operator.
The study examines a 2020 CEV scenario in which Long Island generates or purchases renewable energy to meet 48 percent of its electricity needs (equal to approximately 100 percent of residential demand). By 2030, 75 percent of electricity supply comes from renewable energy with the remaining 25 percent coming from RECs (offsetting fossil fuel generation needed at times when not enough renewable power is available to meet demand). By 2030 offshore wind, connected directly to the Long Island grid, produces roughly a third of the Island’s electricity per year. In addition, Long Island purchases a quarter of its electricity from land-based wind farms (from upstate and other regions). Utility-scale energy storage capacity on the Island moves nearly 16 percent of the total wind energy from off-peak to on-peak energy demand periods. Solar photovoltaics on the Island produce about 6 percent of electricity needs per year. Smaller amounts of landfill gas, biomass and hydropower also contribute to the mix.6,7
Emissions of climate changing greenhouse gases in the CEV are reduced dramatically: carbon dioxide emissions are cut by 30 percent below the business-as-usual scenario by 2020, and 80 percent lower by 2030. By purchasing RECs for the remaining emissions, Long Island can claim a carbon free electricity supply by 2030. Nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and heavy metal emissions from fossil-fueled generation are reduced accordingly.
The intent of this study is not to lay out a detailed implementation plan, but to look at the feasibility and cost of switching Long Island to 100 percent renewable electricity, to better inform the discussion and to prompt further analysis. More work is needed to assess hourly power system operation under the CEV.
The Long Island CEV study counters conventional thinking by demonstrating that Long Island does in fact have the potential to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2030. Choosing such a clean energy future would dramatically reduce harmful pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs and keep energy dollars in the local economy, and reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels.
1.The study was funded by the Long Island Community Foundation and the Rauch Foundation
2. Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. provides research, testimony, reports, and regulatory support to consumer advocates, environmental organizations, regulatory commissions, state energy offices, and others. The firm, founded in 1996, specializes in consulting on energy, economic, and environmental topics. Synapse works for a wide range of clients throughout the United States, including attorneys general, offices of consumer advocates, public utility commissions, a variety of environmental groups, foundations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and others. Source: www.synapse-energy.com
3. One conservative assumption is that energy efficiency costs will rise over time. Information available to date suggests that more aggressive efficiency programs have lower costs per MWh saved than less aggressive ones. However, no utility has maintained a strong efficiency effort over a period of several decades.
4. As compared to a ‘business-as-usual’ reference case, the power supply costs portion of the Clean Electricity Vision in 2020 would be roughly 23% higher. The increase in supply costs in 2030 would be in the range of 16%. Since power supply cost make up about half of the cost of a customer’s bill, the increase in customer bills is roughly half of these increases.
5. These benefits are noted, but were outside the scope of this study and were not quantified.
6. The study notes that energy efficiency is by far the lowest cost electricity resource available to Long Island, and many utilities are capturing more efficiency than LIPA is today. Several states are now aggressively funding efforts to capture cost effective efficiency opportunities.
7. The study examines only one possible scenario. To find an optimal scenario, additional studies are required.Click Here to download the Press Release
Click Here to download the LI Clean Energy Summary
Click Here to download the Synapse Study LI Clean Electricity Vision
Click Here to download the FAQs
Partner organizations in the Long Island Clean Electricity Vision include: 350.org, Alliance for Clean Energy NY, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Environmental Advocates of NY, GRACE Communications Foundation, Group for the East End, HealthyPlanet, LI Solar Energy Industry Association, National Wildlife Federation, NY Public Interest Research Group, Renewable Energy Long Island, Sierra Club, Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, The Neighborhood Network, and Vision Long Island.
Links to More Information on other 100% Renewable efforts:
San Francisco’s 100% Renewable Goal: http://sfenvironment.org/energy/renewable-energy
Munich’s 100% Goal: http://www.swm.de/english/company/energy-generation/renewable-energies.html
Australia Campaign: http://100percent.org.au
European Union Campaign: http://www.100percentrenewables.eu/
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