Public Service Commission sends uneven environmental message

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The state Public Service Commission Thursday approved a long-delayed energy efficiency plan that earmarked $400 million for upgrades to convert 12,000 households from fossil fuels each year.

However, experts estimate the state must convert over 200,000 buildings per year to meet state zero-carbon goals by 2040. According to the Alliance for a Green Economy, the Commission also decided to lower the target amount of high-efficiency heat pumps it had previously planned to install.

Although more heat pumps convert more buildings to fossil fuel independence, purchase and installation also cost millions. The energy efficiency order had stalled in response to financial concerns from service providers.

In a blow to the green energy supporters packing into its monthly meeting, the Commission also approved utility provider Consolidated Edison’s request to invest in fossil fuel pipelines by raising rates on its customers. The only governor-appointed Commissioner against the proposal, Tracey Edwards, cited environmental concerns when voting.

In response to the Con Ed vote, activists chanted and sang in protest, temporarily shutting down the meeting before they were removed. Con Ed’s rate hike proposal includes millions for gas infrastructure projects they say they need to increase fuel deliveries to New York City.

Lawmakers worry the rate increase could disproportionately affect struggling families outside New York City. “Stop fueling our economy with these antiquated fossil fuel-based systems that continue to cost constituents millions,” said Peekskill City Councilman Colin Smith.

At the meeting, the Public Service Commission authorized a new pricing and credit structure that it says will lower costs and encourage spending that develops clean energy resources.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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