The content of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech on Wednesday may have helped to stoke some speculation about his 2016 presidential ambitions, but as part of what looks like an effort to really get on the progressive bandwagon, he talked up a number of green-friendly proposals including a $1.5 billion solar program, a $1 billion Green Bank, and installing up to 3,000 electric vehicle-charging stations throughout New York:
“The economy of tomorrow is the clean tech economy,” Cuomo said in his address. “We all know it – it’s a foot race and whatever state, whatever region gets there first wins the prize and we want it to be New York.”
Cuomo’s NY-Sun program would spend $150 million annually for 10 years to spur solar installations, from residential rooftops to ground-mounted power plants, as well as efforts to reduce the bureaucratic obstacles and other costs of going solar.
His $1 billion Green Bank would leverage public funds to attract private capital to promote energy efficiency and green technologies.
“The NY Green Bank would overcome a number of obstacles and uncertainties in the clean energy sector, including unstable federal funding and policy, uncoordinated action and disparate one-time subsidies at the state level, a lack of appropriate financial instruments, and apprehension in the investor community,” according to the Cuomo proposal.
If individual states want to go ahead an institute their own versions of renewable portfolio standards or renewable tax credits or what have you, I suppose that’s their prerogative — one of the best things about federalism is that states compete for residents and dollars, and ineffective policies can be altered and eliminated much more quickly and efficiently if need be. Why it is, however, that Gov. Cuomo professes to know that the “clean tech economy” (which specifically seems to mean solar, electric vehicles, and etcetera) is most definitely the “economy of tomorrow,” when California is aptly demonstrating the race-to-the-bottom costs of so much subsidizing, is a little harder to grasp. Via RealClearEnergy:
California is headed over the “green energy cliff,” according to Keith Kohl, writing on Energy & Capital. The state is having great success in converting its electrical production away from coal and toward renewables. Its renewable component now far exceeds that of any other state. …
But what is all this doing to the price of electricity? Kohl notes that California residents already pay nearly three times the rate as many other states and that figure is headed straight up as well. All this will weigh heavily on the California economy. …
But the outcome, as shows by the graph at the right, is that electricity prices are headed straight up. This is because wind and solar are still far more expensive than fossil fuels and nuclear. These costs are often disguised in that wind and solar can be produced at zero marginal costs when the wind blows or the sun shines. But these sources must be constantly backed up by gas, coal and nuclear, which become more expensive to run when they can only sell their power intermittently.
Meanwhile, Cuomo is still showing resistance to the direction in which every available free-market sign is pointing by neglecting to offer more widespread opportunity to the natural gas industry in the state, which could bring in an influx of jobs, wealth, and relatively cleaner-burning energy. Shakin’ my head.