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The New York State Energy Plan, announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015, calls for a doubling to 50 percent of the portion of the electricity used in the state that comes from renewable sources by 2030. This would lower greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, and reduce the use of fossil fuels, especially natural gas. Much of this new renewable energy would be generated by wind and solar projects. Some of it would be from wind facilities to be built offshore in the Atlantic Ocean; the rest would be on the land. Various federal and state incentives and mandates, as well as declining costs, have induced private developers to propose large onshore wind and solar farms. However, a number of upstate and Long Island municipalities have adopted or are considering local laws that would inhibit this construction and thus make it more difficult for the state to meet its renewable energy goals. As state statute, Article X of the Public Service Law, allows the state to override these local laws. This column discusses the history and contents of Article X, the case law under it and its predecessors, and how it can be used to help the construction of renewable energy facilities.
The New York State Legislature on June 22, 2011, overwhelmingly passed the Power NY Act of 2011. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it on Aug. 4. The new law revives Article X of the Public Service Law after a nearly nine-year hibernation. As before, the law creates a one-stop, state-led program for permitting electric generating facilities while preempting local requirements. But the new Article X differs from its predecessor in several important ways: It covers facilities as small as 25 megawatts, it has even more generous provisions for funding intervenors, and it requires important new rules on environmental justice and carbon dioxide emissions. In this article, the author provides some background and history into Article X. In addition to this, the author explains the workings of the new version of Article X, including its siting board, pre-application and application processes, hearing and decision processes, and lastly, its impact on environmental justice.