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NYPA Board Gives Green Light to Sustainability Action Plan

Michael Saltzman

June 26, 2007


UTICA—The New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) record as one of the “greenest” utilities in the country, resting squarely on its hydropower and significant investments in energy efficiency and other clean generating technologies, is on course for standing out even further thanks to a five-year Sustainability Action Plan approved Tuesday by the NYPA trustees for integrating environmental, economic and social concerns into one framework.

“The Sustainability Action Plan establishes a roadmap for injecting sustainability practices into virtually all facets of NYPA operations,” said Frank S. McCullough, Jr., NYPA chairman. “This plan springs from recognition of the importance of running our public power organization in a manner that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

“This is a way of thinking the Power Authority has long been sensitive to, but especially under the leadership of our outgoing President, Timothy Carey, who stepped up our sustainability efforts beyond energy efficiency and clean generation toward water conservation, use of recyclable materials and other measures mindful of the planet’s finite resources and the importance of preserving them for our children and grandchildren,” McCullough said.  

Last January, NYPA announced that its 17-story administrative office building in White Plains had become the first existing building in New York State to receive Gold ranking from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, in recognition of its sustainable features, for saving energy and water, recyclable practices, use of low-toxic, biodegradable paints and cleaners, and various other measures.  The upgrade is helping to serve as a guide for similar LEED-certified projects planned at other buildings where NYPA has generating and transmission facilities.

The Sustainability Action Plan stems from a collaborative effort of an interdepartmental team of NYPA professionals working with a global consulting firm, Ove Arup and Partners, P.C., with extensive experience in sustainability and environmental planning. The plan focuses on five broad areas: workplace, marketplace, operations, community and environment.  It includes goals for increased renewable power use and energy efficiency at both NYPA facilities and those of customers; measures for making NYPA a carbon-neutral organization; development of biofuels; water conservation; and land management for protecting sensitive habitats and species.

The action plan will involve NYPA employees at every level, beginning with formal training and orientation sessions this fall.

The emphasis on sustainability is consistent with policy direction set by Gov. Eliot Spitzer, including his goal of reducing electricity consumption in the state by 15 percent below the forecasted level by 2015 through new energy-efficiency programs in industry and government; and his renewal of Executive Orders for green and clean state buildings, renewable power use, and investment in biofuels.

The Power Authority’s expanded sustainability efforts build on its substantial hydropower generation, which accounts for some 75 percent of its electricity production. This includes large hydroelectric projects on the St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers, which provide some of the cleanest and lowest-cost electricity in the state, and serve as bulwarks for industries in Northern and Western New York, respectively.

Last year, the Power Authority invested approximately $118 million in energy efficiency projects such as new lighting and energy management systems at public facilities around the state. Various other energy services that NYPA has undertaken over the years have included installation of some 186,000 energy-efficient refrigerators at public housing in New York City and Buffalo, and replacement of polluting coal-fired furnaces at public schools in New York City, Buffalo and on Long Island, with boilers fueled by cleaner natural gas or oil.

NYPA’s cumulative-to-date investment in energy services last year topped $1 billion. The initiatives have also included fuel cells and solar power installations, for emission-free electricity at various customer sites, further reducing demand on the electric power grid. All told, NYPA has undertaken energy efficiency and clean energy projects at more than 2,500 public facilities statewide, reducing annual electric bills more than $100 million, and yearly greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 810,000 tons. The efforts correspond with the equivalent reduction in annual oil use of nearly 2 million barrels.

Other notable sustainability initiatives by NYPA in the last year include its completion of a Life Extension and Modernization program at its Niagara Power Project to maximize its operating efficiency, with similar ongoing upgrades at its St. Lawrence-FDR and Blenheim-Gilboa projects; feasibility tests at its Charles Poletti Power Project in Queens, for blending a biofuel from soybean oil with conventional fuel oil to generate electricity; and completion of agreements for purchase of renewable energy attributes, or “green tags,” from two upstate wind farms on behalf of the Authority’s governmental customers in New York City and the thousands of public facilities they operate.


  About NYPA:

 ■    NYPA uses no tax money or state credit.  It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity.  ■    NYPA is a leader in promoting energy-efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives.  ■    It is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating facilities in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.

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