New York Goes Full Central Planning for The Electricity Sector


Francis Menton

Here in New York State, we have an electricity system that, as of this moment, is functioning just fine. Granted, we pay more for the electricity than we should — probably in the range of 50% or more extra — mainly because we have banned the exploitation of our own abundant natural gas resources from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in the upstate areas. And granted also that we just in 2020 and 2021 closed the two big nuclear reactors at Indian Point, about 40 miles north of New York City, which had supplied more than 25% of the City’s power. (We immediately replaced those nuclear plants with two brand new natural gas power plants of almost equivalent capacity, and with those additions the current system continues to work with a high degree of reliability. Building those new gas plants was our last rational act before peak environmental insanity kicked in.)

It is not news that our existing, functional electricity system grievously offends the sensibilities of environmental activists, particularly due to its high reliance on natural gas to generate the power. By our Climate Change and Community Protection Act of 2019 (Climate Act), the legislature has decreed that we are to have a rapid transition to “net zero” carbon emissions, first in the electricity sector, and then for the entire economy. No feasibility study or demonstration project for us! The only option is Full Speed Ahead, without a clue as to whether this will work or not.

The free markets have figured out that natural gas is the current low-cost way to make incremental electricity; thus, the energy transition does not budge without government command and massive subsidies. That will not stop us. Forget what the markets are clearly telling us. It’s time for the markets to take their orders from the politicians and the bureaucrats. We will go Full Central Planning. Has that ever proved to be a problem anywhere in the past? Not that anyone here seems to recognize.

As previously discussed in this post of December 29, 2021, the Climate Act ordered up a Climate Action Council, and directed said Council to produce a Scoping Plan to show us the path forward to net zero utopia. The Council was stacked with environmental activists and sorely lacking in anyone with expertise in how the energy system actually works. A Scoping Plan was duly produced— more than 300 pages of text and another 400+ of appendices. In that December 2021 post I characterized the Scoping Plan (then in near-final draft form) as “preposterous” and “amateurish,” essentially taking the approach of ordering up the end result and directing the little people to figure out the engineering details. Sample quote: “The authors are like a parody version of King Canute, who actually believe that when they order the tide to stop rising, it will obey.”

More recently, it has been brought to my attention that other documents exist supposedly giving more detail as to how New York is going to accomplish the net zero transition. First, daughter (and MC contributor) Jane participated in a conference call among board members of Queens co-ops, attended by Donovan Richards, the Queens Borough President. The purpose of the call was to present concerns about whether the grid would be adequate to support the change to electric heat that is being forced on the co-ops by a New York City statute. According to Jane, Richards and his staff pooh-poohed the idea that grid adequacy might pose any problem. To allay any concerns, they referred Jane and her co-board members to a January 2022 Report issued by the electric utility Con Edison, with the title “An Integrated View of Our Energy System through 2050.”

Separately, reader Bill Ponton refers me to another Report, this one put out in January 2021 by the New York Public Service Commission and the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, with the title “Initial Report on the Power Grid Study.” (At that link there is a further link where you can download a pdf of the full Report.)

Let me start with a few thoughts on the Con Edison Report. It is lots of verbiage and plenty of charts and graphs. And it is more or less exactly what you would expect if you think for say, one minute, about what position Con Edison might take. As a deeply regulated entity, they are completely required to affirm the directives and applaud the wisdom of their government overlords. But more than that, they are clearly salivating over the prospect of getting to make billions of dollars of new investments, all of which will earn a guaranteed, regulated rate of return for their investors — and if we are really, really lucky, the end result will be that we get the exact same electricity for much higher cost. If we aren’t so lucky, we will get much less reliable electricity for the much higher cost. The cost factor is played down throughout the Report, and we never get any meaningful quantification.

But all the verbiage and charts and graphs mainly have the purpose of obscuring the fact that Con Ed does not take responsibility for making sure that there is enough electricity availability to supply customer demand on the grid. That’s somebody else’s job.

To set the tone, here is a quote from page 1:

[W]e are committed to being the next-generation, clean energy company that our customers deserve and expect. We will play a critical role in delivering on the ambitious climate and clean energy goals set by New York State and New York City, including reaching net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. In addition, the need for safe, reliable, and secure energy infrastructure remains paramount.

OK, where in there did you say that you take responsibility for there being enough electricity to meet demand?

Cost barely gets mentioned in the introductory section. It finally turns up in the last paragraph. Here’s how they spin it:

We recognize this transition to a net-zero GHG emissions energy system will require significant investment. We seek to make investments that achieve the goals of this transition as cost- effectively as possible, which necessitates growing our electric system while maintaining our gas and steam systems to achieve clean energy goals.

In other words, whoo-boy is there a lot of money for us to make here!

But how about the question of who is going to supply the electricity? Buried in a section on “Our History” (page 9), we find this:

We primarily own transmission and distribution assets and no generation aside from our steam co-generation.

Oh, right, Con Ed got out of the generation business over the course of the past several decades. Somebody else will be building all of those new wind turbines and solar panels. Or maybe they won’t. Not our business. On page 3 we get a table of all of the fantastic new renewable generation to come:

  • Up to 41 GW of utility scale solar generation from across New York State
  • Up to 19.4 GW of offshore wind from the Atlantic Ocean
  • Up to 13.8 GW of onshore wind from upstate New York
  • 3.5 GW of renewable hydropower from Canada

And how much of that do you take responsibility for?

We have developed plans to build the necessary electric transmission and distribution infrastructure by 2050 to . . . [I]nterconnect and balance new renewable generation from [these new renewable generators].

In other words, it’s not our job to actually build the things, let alone decide how many of them to build or where. Our job is “interconnection” and “balance.” Providing the actual generation capacity is the job of the Central Planners — people with no profit motive and whose jobs are not on the line if the whole thing turns out not to work. Are they doing the job? No comment.

And how about the trillions of dollars worth of energy storage that will be needed when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? See if you can decode this word salad:

We have developed plans to build the necessary electric transmission and distribution infrastructure by 2050 to . . . [d]evelop and facilitate up to 12.6 GW of energy storage through direct utility investments and customer programs at customer and utility scales.

Where even to start? “12.6 GW” of storage? They don’t even know the correct units to discuss this issue. If these are four-hour duration lithium ion batteries (unspecified, but what else could they be talking about?), that will give you 50.4 GWh of storage — enough to cover New York State for a couple of hours at most of low sun and wind. Competent calculations indicate a storage requirement of more like 20 to 30 days of storage to deal with the seasonality of the sun and wind. So this is at best a small fraction of one percent of what will be needed to back up the solar/wind grid of the future.

But what does Con Ed care? They’re not actually saying here that they are taking responsibility for making the new system work, let alone even providing the batteries themselves. They’re only saying that they have “developed plans” to “facilitate” the storage, which could occur either through “utility investments” or “customer programs.” In other words, I guess, hey sucker, use your electric car battery to power the house when the grid goes down.

Yes, this is what the Borough President of Queens is offering up to reassure his constituents that they have nothing to worry about as our government simultaneously shuts down all electricity generation that works and compels them to go all electric to heat their homes.

In the next post I’ll offer some observations from Bill Ponton on the NYSERDA grid study.

5 17 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom Halla
April 21, 2023 6:13 am

How dare you have any doubts? Keep clapping, or Tinkerbelle dies!

April 21, 2023 6:17 am

People are going to die in the cold, but not the politicians and the rich. Why does the left hate nuclear sooooo much? Follow the money?

Reply to  captainjtiberius
April 21, 2023 11:28 am

‘Why does the left hate nuclear sooooo much? Follow the money?

Stupidity and ignorance.

abolition man
Reply to  Disputin
April 21, 2023 11:55 am

The modern school system has done away with the 3 Rs, and replaced them with the Arrogant Ignorance Method! Feelings trump facts and data every time!
Greentards believe in their own rectitude, and ignore any evidence to the contrary; stupidity is just an added bonus for many of them

April 21, 2023 6:21 am

Who knew that the addition of some large natural gas plants would end up buying more time for political brownie points for feel good advisory committees. Are they competing for gas from the LNG market?

It doesnot add up
Reply to  ResourceGuy
April 21, 2023 8:18 am

They’re relying on shale gas from Pennsylvania. Fortunately the import pipelines got expanded a few years ago.

Reply to  It doesnot add up
April 21, 2023 8:56 am

So, they are using other people’s fracking while fighting the Mountain Valley pipeline.

Sounds like NY.
Trash Fight: The long voyage of New York’s unwanted garbage barge – New York Daily News (

Reply to  It doesnot add up
April 21, 2023 2:46 pm
April 21, 2023 7:12 am

Anyone selling firewood? Living in NYS, I’m gonna need a few (hundred) cord.

April 21, 2023 8:19 am

New York already gets a healthy chunk of electricity in the form of hydropower from Canada. As Canada transitions to net zero, will this stream disappear? I would doubt the NY could depend on it.

Reply to  starzmom
April 21, 2023 8:59 am

Long term contracts for imported power and throw another tax hike on the rich

The Real Engineer
Reply to  ResourceGuy
April 22, 2023 4:01 am

Not as such, see my post above.

Frank from NoVA
April 21, 2023 8:24 am

Good article. Note well that ratepayers will never get unbiased information on net zero from their utility and its regulators. The latter is composed of political (progressive) hacks who are all-in on climate alarmism. And the former are crony capitalists, who not only do whatever the regulators desire, but also make more money doing so because they earn on all the mal-investments needed to tie the W&S crap into the grid.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
April 23, 2023 3:13 pm

Crony capitalism is just another way of describing socialism.

April 21, 2023 8:51 am
Dr. Bob
April 21, 2023 9:02 am

Just wait. There will be a political loophole for politicians to have diesel generators available for their personal use. They will naturally run on renewable fuels so they will be “Carbon Neutral” and thus meet the mandates.
Hydrocarbon fuels are the only reliable source of energy we currently have.
Speaking of insanity, the EU ETS is mandating that airlines only use e-fuels in the future. And you thought that the EU was starved for power now, just wait.
The US is also thinking of mandating e-fuels. The conversion efficiency of electric power to hydrocarbon energy is maybe 30%. And we consume a lot of hydrocarbon fuels. About 16 million bbl/day. That is equivalent to 23.8 million MW-h of energy or the output of 10 million wind turbines operating 24/7/365. This is about 1 TW of generation. Now factor a conversion efficiency of 30% and a capacity factor of 25% for turbines and you get 13 TW of wind capacity needed. At 70 acres per turbine, that is a vast amount of land area.
Good luck with that mandate.

April 21, 2023 9:33 am

“…a high degree of reliability…”

Will not be tolerated. You must suffer

CD in Wisconsin
April 21, 2023 9:51 am

“No feasibility study or demonstration project for us! The only option is Full Speed Ahead, without a clue as to whether this will work or not.”


The stupidity of doing something like this on this level without a feasibility study boggles my mind — and I’m not even an engineer or scientist. Germany is another example.

I guess this demonstrates what happens when the people in power are operating on an emotional and ideological level instead of with their brains and intellect. Fortunately, I do not live in NY, but I still just shake my head in despair.

More Soylent Green!
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
April 21, 2023 11:53 am

I recall “The Gulag Archepeligo.” When the communists took over Russia, they replaced engineers and experienced managers with what were essentially Komisars (politica lofficers). Somehow dedication to revolutionary ideas made one superior to those with technical knowledge and expertise. In short, they were simply smarter and could do it better. They didn’t need feasibility studies, either. They wreckec everything, of course, and blamed their failures on those who said it would not work.

Sounds familiar, no?

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  More Soylent Green!
April 21, 2023 3:04 pm

Sounds familiar, no?

Yes, all too much. It’s like eco-ideologues and their political allies are allergic to scientists and engineers when the latter don’t tell the ideologues what they want to hear. Maybe they break out in hives.

Joseph Zorzin
April 21, 2023 10:37 am

“we have banned the exploitation of our own abundant natural gas resources from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in the upstate areas”

and unfortunately, that gas can’t get piped to New England- which was getting LNG from Russia before the “special military mission”

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 21, 2023 12:22 pm

Nevertheless gas is getting to New England using the previous pipelines whose capacity has been expanded, mainly by operating at higher pressure via upgraded compressor stations. The Everett LNG terminal in Boston now rarely gets an LNG cargo unless the weather threatens to be very cold.

Reply to  It doesnot add up
April 21, 2023 2:56 pm

Once it gets cold its too late . Isnt supplies come in summer-autumn to build up storage for winter ?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  It doesnot add up
April 22, 2023 6:28 am

High prices has cut demand so many there’s enough for the moment. Of course the New England states are on a roll for net zero so it’s probably assumed we won’t be using any gas soon. It’s one thing to pay more but when the state says you won’t be getting any in the future- I suspect a lot of people aren’t going to be happy about it.

I believe that in western MA potential new customers for gas can’t get hooked up. Not sure about the rest of the region but that’s going to be a problem.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
April 21, 2023 2:55 pm

Russia has increased it LNG exports shipped by sea, usually by non russian flag tankers
Even the Germans who had lower cost bulk gas from pipelines reduced that to instead use some higher cost LNG

Joseph Zorzin
April 21, 2023 10:41 am

“Up to 41 GW of utility scale solar generation from across New York State”

At least in New England, a lot of resistance is building up against utility scale solar. I expect the same will happen in NY.

Joseph Zorzin
April 21, 2023 10:43 am

Do the energy ruling elite in NY state read The Manhattan Contrarian?

Coeur de Lion
April 21, 2023 10:43 am

Let’s not forget that there is not the slightest vestige of a chance that the steady 2-3ppm per year CO2 increase will be checked, given China, India and outgassing.

abolition man
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
April 21, 2023 3:45 pm

My back-of-the-napkin calculation is that we need about 800ppm CO2 by the next period of glacial onset. Not to prevent it (greenhouse effect isn’t strong enough,) but to help plants in the shrunken tropic and temperate zones survive the frequent droughts from fresh water being locked up in glaciers and icecaps!
We’re in a race to see if we can restore the mental health of human civilization before the crazed eco-loons drive us off the cliff to their Utopia, many meters below!

April 21, 2023 12:39 pm

Looks like the Edison part of the company no longer exists leaving just the Con part.

April 21, 2023 2:40 pm

Fire up all fossil fuel and nuclear generators and take all wind and solar off the grid. The grid is too important for wind and solar to be a part of it.

Paul Hurley
April 21, 2023 3:58 pm

To be blunt, I say this is good news. Let New York State wreck their electricity infrastructure and suffer years of blackouts, misery, economic devastation and deaths this stupidity will cause. It will be a hard lesson, but a lesson well learned. The most ardent anti-communists are those who survived the darkness and evil of the Soviet Union. I’m sure the same will apply to the victims of “net zero”.

John the Econ
April 21, 2023 7:51 pm

Remember that movie from the ’80s where a future Manhattan is evacuated and turned into a dark, powerless prison? This could be the prequel.

The Real Engineer
April 22, 2023 3:59 am

That is not a plan (at least one that Engineers can understand). It is green political nonsense. Are you allowed to ask any questions about the technical details, say how many pylons and lines will be needed to where?

A supplier cannot contract supply unless they know where they are going to get it and at what cost. Does this mean that electricity supplies will be “if and when we can get the energy, and at on other times you are on your own”. That is how I read it, soon ConEdison (I laugh at that name, it says it all) will have no customers and be broke, however much they spend on more distribution.

Will New York even function without the subways on windless days, presumably others will be switched off to keep the running. I see the whole lot as a complete joke, don’t worry at the first blackout all the Greens will cry as they are hunted down by the rest of the population, and you have a lot of guns in America.

April 22, 2023 4:04 am

Ultimately, it looks a lot like there is a more collegiate approach to energy market regulation being taken-
Big win for wind and solar as rule change reverses “system black” fallout | RenewEconomy
Yes we can’t have unreliables paying their true cost so dump a lot of their costs back on the communal network. That’s collegiality for you in the power bill total. Well either that or the greenouts for some bill relief.

Mark BLR
April 22, 2023 5:24 am

Up to 19.4 GW of offshore wind from the Atlantic Ocean

Also in the Con Edison document you will find (in Table 2, “Innovative Clean Technologies”, at the top of page 17) :

Technology : Offshore Wind

Description : Large-scale wind turbines located in the Atlantic Ocean that benefit from stronger and more consistent winds

While we’re waiting for the 804 MW “Vineyard Wind 1” project to come online up the coast (off Massachusetts) we can look at how the “Block Island” pilot offshore wind farm (BIWF) is faring just 17 miles east of the tip of Long Island.

Note that Wikipedia has a “click and zoom in” map for you to check its location for yourself.
URL 1 :

With only five 6 MW turbines the total BIWF “nameplate / nominal” capacity is [ 30 (MW) x 24 (hours per day) x 30 (days per month) ~= ] 21.6 GWh per month, but it can still be used to see just how “consistent” those Atlantic Ocean winds are, and provide ballpark figures for actual “Capacity Factors” throughout the year.

Data for the BIWF is available from December 2016 up to January 2023 (at the time of posting) from the EIA website.
URL 2 :

Ummmm … while here in Europe energy usage usually peaks in winter to keep people warm, don’t many US states have peaks in the summer running all that air-conditioning to keep people cool, e.g. in Texas, Florida and California ?

According to most films and TV series set there, with an air-conditioning unit hanging out of (at least ?) one window in everybody’s apartment, isn’t that true for NYC as well ?

– – – – –

PS : There’s a new WUWT article up titled “Is Russia Preparing to Attack Offshore Wind Turbine Infrastructure?”, but that seems to be talking about undersea infrastructure off Norway rather than the US eastern seaboard.
Does anyone know if the 2021 summer “droop” in the graph below was due to 4 or 5 gearboxes having to be replaced “simultaneously” (after less than 5 years …), a ship anchor “accidentally” dragging on part of the BIWF undersea power cable network, or something else entirely ?

My “Google-fu” seems to be escaping me on this detail …

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights