Niagara Generation: camel’s nose under the tent for New York's RPS
[Click here to read PFPI’s letter to the New York PSC on NiGen’s application to make adulterated wood eligible for renewable energy subsidies.]
Just upstream from Niagara Falls, New York, is the Niagara Generation plant, which burns coal, tires, and “clean” construction and demolition wood to produce electricity. The plant is one of the biggest polluters in a region where toxic air pollution already exceeds health standards. Beyond electricity, though, what the plant really generates is subsidies from its dirty fuel. Energy produced from burning tires and “clean” construction and demolition wood gets ratepayer-funded renewable energy subsidies under New York law, with the provision that the wood is not “adulterated” with glues and resins.
However, just two years after persuading the New York State Public Service Commission to give renewable energy subsidies to untreated construction and demolition wood that has been separated from contaminated materials, NiGen now claims it can’t be financially viable unless it gets subsidies for burning adulterated (glued) wood, too. The company has thus petitioned the PSC to allow up to 10% adulterated wood in the subsidy-eligible fuel stream.
To be clear, NiGen is already allowed to burn up to 30% glued wood for its fuel supply. It just can’t get subsidies for it. The company claims they don’t have enough fuel now, but what they really mean is, they don’t have enough subsidy-eligible fuel now. In other words, the company is asking for financial incentives to do something that they are already permitted to do.
The PSC should stand strong and swat back that camel’s nose poking under the tent. Loosening standards for subsidy-eligible fuel will simply lead to even more plants being built that burn dirty fuels (Helloooo, Taylor Biomass)… further claims of fuel (and subsidy) shortages… and ever more pressure to burn ever more dirty wood. Rinse, repeat.
Like most Americans, New Yorkers know the difference between clean and dirty energy – they just haven’t been given the chance to vote on it. Making ever more dirty materials eligible to produce renewable energy is a step exactly in the wrong direction if we want to produce truly clean energy.
Click here to read PFPI’s letter to the New York PSC on NiGen’s application to make adulterated wood eligible for renewable energy subsidies.