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Comptroller’s Report Shows Renewable Energy Offers Opportunities for Economic Growth

Increasing the amount of New York’s electricity produced with renewable energy could create 43,000 new jobs in manufacturing and energy related industries and through increased economic activity, according to a report issued today by New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi.

Renewable energies include energy derived from natural sources, such as hydropower, solar energy, and wind power among others. The jobs created could result from increasing the amount of electricity to 25 percent of energy created from renewable sources by 2013 from the current 20 percent.

“New York has a number of characteristics that make it a natural fit for the renewable energy industry, including abundant natural resources, a highly-skilled workforce, access to capital, world-class academic and research centers, and supportive government programs,” Hevesi said. “As this industry continues to grow, New York has a real opportunity to create new jobs and attract investments to the State.”

"Alternative energy represents extraordinary promise for the economic future of New York State. As a leader in alternative energy technologies and research, New York already has many of the tools necessary to capitalize on this emerging industry and create jobs," Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said. "Comptroller Hevesi's report is another important reminder of the critical role our state and federal governments must play in supporting this growing industry."

“New York State lost 136,000 manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2003,” Hevesi said. “The Pataki Administration has set a strong goal for increasing our use of renewable energy. We now need to make the necessary changes to reach that goal to both help the environment and add thousands of high-wage, high-skill jobs to the New York economy, including manufacturing jobs.”

Hevesi noted that some communities like Albany, Syracuse, and Rochester, and Long Island are particularly well-suited for the renewable energy industry because of research being conducted at universities and private sector companies. He said there are currently 170 private companies in the renewable energy sector in New York State.

The report also outlines potential economic benefits the State could receive from strengthening the renewable energy industry, such as increasing State and local tax revenue collections, increasing revenues to farmers who could lease land to install wind turbines or begin cultivating energy-producing crops, and keeping more of New York’s energy spending in-state. Expanded use of renewable energy also will cut back on the release of harmful pollutants, which will reduce public health care costs and improve the environment.

Hevesi recommended several actions for the State to take to strengthen the New York’s renewable energy industry, including:

  • Passing legislation to allow municipalities to pay as much as 15 percent more for energy from renewable sources than they would for energy from conventional sources. A bill allowing this was passed by the Assembly last year.
  • Codifying the Pataki Administration’s goal of obtaining 25 percent of the State’s electricity from renewable resources by 2013. Many other states have enacted their renewable energy goals in law
  • Enact regulatory changes that make it easier for renewable energy producers to connect to the electric grid, make connection tariffs more predictable, and encourage the Public Service Commission to mediate disputes between renewable energy producers and generators and utilities, as needed.
  • Amending State energy laws and regulations to promote the purchase of renewable energy by State government agencies

Hevesi also announced that he will audit the System Benefits Charge (SBC), paid by all electricity customers, which funds efforts to encourage the development of renewable energy resources. Hevesi’s audit will offer recommendations to improve accountability and transparency of the SBC, which is currently administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and is set to expire in 2006.

Hevesi initiated this study at the request of Senator Hillary Clinton and New Jobs for New York, a not-for-profit organization focused on retaining and attracting new investment and jobs to New York. Hevesi and Senator Clinton participated in a conference sponsored by New Jobs for New York on the State’s renewable energy industry at the Rochester Institute of Technology in February 2004.

The report focuses on those technologies with the greatest potential for growth in New York: solar, wind, biomass, and fuel cells.

Types of renewable energy:

  • Wind power is the fastest growing energy technology in the world, with wind generating capacity increasing at an average annual rate of 25 percent from 1990-2000. New York State ranks 15th in the country for wind energy potential
  • Solar power is rapidly growing worldwide with applications ranging from home roof systems to solar power plants. New York State receives enough solar energy to provide adequate power for average-sized homes that are equipped with solar roof tiles.
  • Biomass energy is produced from organic fuel, such as plant matter, animal waste and methane gas emitted by landfills and is used to create steam for powering turbines. New York is the third-largest dairy producer in the country, which makes the State well-suited to take advantage of growth in the biomass industry.
  • Fuel cell technology is an emerging technology that generates energy through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. Currently, there is significant research being conducted into fuel cells at the State University at Albany and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, among other universities.


Click here for a copy of the Comptroller's report.


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