ENERGY POLICY | ANTHONY S. CAMPAGIORNI, CENTRAL HUDSON
RELIABILITY IS CRITICAL TO PRAGMATICALLY ACHIEVE A LOW CARBON ENERGY SYSTEM
Central Hudson Gas & Electric, as a founding member of the Council of Industry when it was formed in 1910, has long been a supporter of our local manufacturing sector. At that time the nation was about 30 years into a transformation with the advent of electric power generation. In 1884, Thomas Edison built the Montgomery Street Station, one of the world’s earliest central electric generators, in Newburgh. Today, Central Hudson still maintains an electric substation at this location. So much has changed since then but what was true in 1910 remains true today; that our customers, including local manufacturing companies, require reliable, affordable energy each and every day. This is especially true for our region’s industrial and manufacturing sector that continues to play an integral role in the regional economy.
New York State is, once again, in the midst of one of the most ambitious energy transitions in the country. The 2019 landmark law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) calls for dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through a variety of policy measures. Among them is providing 70 percent of the state’s electric needs through renewable resources by 2030; and producing zero emission electric generation by 2040. The law also specifies the technologies to be used, with established levels required for solar and wind generating capacities as well as battery storage.
Central Hudson supports a pragmatic approach toward achieving a low-carbon energy system and is making substantial investments in the local energy infrastructure to facilitate renewable resources, enhance system efficiency and improve storm resilience.
One of the reasons businesses choose to call the Hudson Valley home is because of the abundant and reliable energy resources available to them. As we’ve seen, the absence of reliable power can have devastating effects. Recent events in California and Texas have demonstrated what can happen when our energy system is unable to meet the needs and demands of its customers, from a loss of commerce to, more importantly, loss of life.
The need for reliable service will only increase as more and more elements of daily life are electrified. New York State’s goals require moving substantial portions of our transportation and building heating systems, which together contribute nearly 70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in New York State, to be powered by electricity. This evolution will require significant investment by electric utilities in the electric grid and by consumers and businesses in new end use equipment.
Renewable sources like solar and wind are clean, but intermittent, dependent on sunlight and wind. Today’s battery storage systems offer only several hours of power, and then must be recharged. In other words, there is a gap between today’s technology and their ability to meet environmental goals while ensuring continuous, reliable power.
In order to bridge this gap, it is imperative that policymakers keep an open mind to emerging technologies and resources while avoiding the pitfalls of selecting an overly prescriptive approach. Already we are seeing promising advances in the use of hydrogen and renewable natural gas. Starting next year, the Cricket Valley Energy Center in Dover Plains will begin a pilot test of blending hydrogen with natural gas for the purposes of power generation. In many cases, these zero greenhouse gas emitting resources can be transported through the existing natural gas pipeline system, significantly reducing the financial impact of an energy transition by leveraging existing infrastructure.
In addition to reliable service, it is critically important that we successfully reduce emissions at the lowest-possible cost to our customers. Within Central Hudson’s service territory, energy efficiency programs offer the most cost-effective way to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, with an annualized cost of approximately $0.01-$0.02 per kWh. This makes energy efficiency programs 80-90 percent less costly than renewable energy.
Central Hudson offers incentives on a variety of energy efficient equipment for commercial and industrial customers. Programs provide incentives and rebates toward energy efficient interior and exterior lighting, heating and cooling equipment, kitchen equipment, building controls and custom measures that allow for more unique equipment to be considered. Central Hudson’s energy efficiency incentives are designed to help end users afford to upgrade their old or failing equipment to high-efficient, energy saving technologies.
Initiatives like our energy efficient programs are funded by New York’s utility customers. In fact, customers are financially supporting all of the programs linked to achieving the state’s clean energy goals. In 2020 alone, Central Hudson customers paid $69 million, or approximately 10 percent of the average residential bill, toward New York’s clean energy initiatives. Of this, Central Hudson’s commercial and industrial customers contributed more than $33 million. These costs are only expected to grow as utility-scale offshore wind and other projects begin development.
Just as the introduction of electric power generation revolutionized the way we live and work, this next transition is likely to be transformational as well. Central Hudson believes renewable energy sources will play major and critical roles during this energy transition. We also believe an approach that encourages energy efficiency programs coupled with the use of multiple, diverse and complementary solutions that allows for evolving technology provides the best pathway toward the ambitious targets outlined in the CLCPA. Central Hudson recognizes the need to transition to a low emissions energy system as quickly as possible, but we must also do so in a way that protects the environment while providing the businesses and industries that have powered New York’s economy the opportunity to thrive.
For more information and to view Central Hudson’s report Powering the Path to a Cleaner Future, visit www.CentralHudson. com/my-energy/our-energy-future/powering-the-path/; for more information on energy efficiency programs that can help lower utility bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, visit www.cenhud.com/my-energy/save-energy-money/
Anthony S. Campagiorni, Vice President, Customer Services & Gas Operations for Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp.