In the last decade, New Yorkers have purchased fewer than 60,000 battery-powered vehicles (BEVs) — less than 1% of the 9 million registered vehicles on the road. In 2021, they purchased around 20,000 BEVs. One hurdle to purchasing BEVs is that they are expensive, about $10,000 more on average than a gasoline-powered vehicle.
And, like everything else, BEVs are getting more expensive, not less.
This is just one reason why a new statewide plan presented by the Climate Action Council will not work.
Just before the New Year, the Climate Action Council — a group initiated by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration — released its Draft Scoping Plan, which details how the state will meet all the mandates signed into law by the New York Climate Act two years ago.
Seventy percent of the state’s electricity must be obtained from renewable energy by 2030; requiring 9,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind to be built by 2035, along with 3,000 MW of battery storage by 2040. By 2040, 100 percent of the state’s electricity needs must be sourced from zero-emissions resources.
The Scoping Plan is a bureaucrat’s dream. At 330 pages, plus over 500 pages of Appendices, the Plan offers a convoluted and woke roadmap of how New York will reach this green Shangri-La, including creating millions of new “green” jobs and promoting “climate justice.”
But President Biden’s national goal of 30,000 MW of offshore wind by 2030 will never be achieved. And neither will New York state’s 9,000 MW offshore wind goal for 2035.
Because everyone wants to build offshore wind, there are too many physical limitations to do so. Rare earth metals must be used to manufacture the turbines; ships and crews are needed to build the foundations and erect the turbines; undersea cables and the ships to install them must be sourced to deliver electricity to shore. And all will result in construction bottlenecks, higher costs and long delays. Furthermore, the environmental backlash against offshore wind is just beginning, which will tie up some projects in courts for years.
As for building 3,000 MW of battery storage facilities, it would likely cost about $1 billion dollars, based on the $80 million cost of PG&E’s 300 MW Moss Landing facility that was completed last July. What’s more, it would provide just 12,000 MWh of electricity — about as much as New York City consumes in one hour on a hot summer day. As for solar power, there’s the pesky issue of ensuring there’s enough electricity at night.
The plan’s transportation assumptions are similarly ludicrous. It predicts that by 2030 — just eight years from now — New Yorkers will have purchased three million electric vehicles and will be content to purchase only electric cars and trucks thereafter. But for the very basic economic reasons I’ve already stated, we are nowhere near approaching that goal.
So where will all the electricity to power this electrified economy come from? According to the plan, it will be supplied by new technologies that don’t yet exist. The plan might as well claim that the Starship Enterprise will travel back in time to deliver these new technologies. Better yet, why not just decree that the electricity will be supplied by unicorns and pixie dust?
Unless Albany also intends to overturn various laws of physics and, even less realistically, overturn the state’s traditional bureaucratic ineptitude and graft, none of the Climate Act’s lofty goals will be achieved. Instead, the state will enrich the usual, politically-connected suspects, showering them with money extracted from the state’s beleaguered taxpayers and electric ratepayers.
That’s the real plan.
Jonathan Lesser is the president of Continental Economics and an adjunct fellow with the Manhattan Institute.