New York City Air Quality The Best In 50 Years, Announces Mayor Bloomberg
In basic terms, capacity markets pay generators to help keep existing power plants in service and build new units in order to maintain system reliability. Demand response providers who agree to reduce power usage when needed can also participate in capacity markets. The new zone will include the current NYISO zones G, H and I in the Lower Hudson Valley and zone J in New York City. The PSC and NYPA said the state is already working on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s so-called Energy Highway initiative to expand the state’s transmission resources to bring more power from upstate New York to the Lower Hudson Valley and New York City area. The PSC and NYPA said the Energy Highway could negate the need for FERC to offer financial incentives to build more power plants downstate. “We strongly urged FERC to reconsider its decision to create a new capacity zone in New York, which it says is needed to build more power plants downstate to alleviate demand for electricity,” PSC Chairwoman Audrey Zibelman said in the release. “We are well aware of the downstate demand for electricity…However, in its decision, FERC did not take into consideration the ongoing initiatives included in the Governor’s Energy Highway,” Zibelman said. The biggest power companies in New York include units of Consolidated Edison Inc, National Grid Plc, Iberdrola SA, Entergy Corp, TransCanada Corp and NRG Energy Inc. COSTS TO RISE The PSC said if FERC’s plan goes into effect, typical residential customers in the Lower Hudson Valley could see monthly bill increases ranging from 5 percent to almost 10 percent, depending on the utility. The increases for industrial and commercial customers could be even higher, the PSC said. “Creation of a permanent new capacity zone undermines the Governor’s Energy Highway initiatives,” Gil Quiniones, NYPA president and chief executive, said in the release. “The Energy Highway pursues a long-term solution to deliver lower-cost, upstate power to the downstate area by reinforcing the transmission system, Quiniones said, noting the new capacity zone will “take money out of the pockets of ratepayers and result in a windfall of profits for existing power plant owners in the region.” The NYISO plans to implement the new zone by May 1, 2014.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg attributed the transformative results to his 2007 project, PlaNYC , an initiative aimed at creating sustainable green reforms around the city from better air quality to more affordable housing. “Our PlaNYC agenda set an ambitious goal of having the cleanest air among the largest U.S. cities,” BLoomberg said at a Climate Week event in the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. “Today’s results show that we have already made major progress towards that goal, which is saving lives and improving the health of New Yorkers.” In the city’s Community Air Survey , officials found that levels of sulfur dioxide in the air have dropped by 69 percent since 2008 and the level of soot pollution in the air has dropped by 23 percent thanks, in large part, to PlaNYC’s Clean Heat program, which was aimed at reducing pollution heavy heating oils. Clean Heat was successful thanks to three key reforms: decreased amounts of toxic heating oils, lowered sulfur content in heating oils and expanded natural gas supplies and local gas distribution. Over 2,700 polluting buildings have phased out toxic heating oils as of 2011 and there are currently 2,500 buildings working on conversions, even though the estimated 10,000 buildings in the city that burn toxic heating oils have until 2030 to make their reforms. The cleaner air, Bloomberg said, is estimated to prevent as much as 800 deaths and 2,000 hospital visits due to lung and cardiovascular diseases annually, compared to 2008 records. Manhattan, northern Queens and the South Bronx achieved the greatest improvement in air quality through natural gas conversions. “The substantial reductions in air pollution we’re seeing translate into healthier New Yorkers who are breathing cleaner air,” said Michael Seilback, Vice President for Public Policy and Communications at the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “As more buildings convert to cleaner burning fuels, we will see even greater health benefits.” To capitalize off of this momentum, the Department of Environment Protection also sent a proposed update to New York City’s Air Code to the City Council. If enacted, this update will be the first major revision to the code in 38 years. The new code will update emission standards and focus on the most notorious sources of pollution like commercial cooking establishments.