Niagara Gazette — "To me, the long-term commitment to continue to invest in resources is more important than the particular target you set," said Valerie Strauss, interim executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, a group that represents renewable energy interests.
Looking at energy generated in New York, which excludes imported power that can be used for the energy authority's targets, about 20 percent came from hydro, which includes decades-old projects along the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers. Wind accounted for 2 percent, and other renewable sources accounted for another 2 percent, according to 2011 figures from the operators of the state's power grid.
"Exclusive of hydropower, the state has developed more renewable energy than any other state in the Northeast," said authority spokeswoman Kate Muller. "Including hydropower, New York's renewable energy capacity is comparable to the entire renewable energy capacity of the other eight states in the Northeast."
New York has made a lot of progress in harnessing wind power, jumping from 48 megawatts of wind capacity in 2004 to more than 1,600 megawatts now, including large-scale development on the windy Tug Hill Plateau east of Lake Ontario.
The university researchers say half of the state's renewable power in 2030 could come from wind, mostly from 12,700 off-shore turbines. But wind power demonstrates some of the challenges of swapping out fossil fuels for green energy.
Industry watchers say wind development slowed down when the economy soured and natural gas prices dropped. There's also uncertainty over the future of a federal tax credit for wind installations.
Offshore wind farms can be particularly costly and controversial. The New York Power Authority in 2011 nixed a plan to put up to 150 turbines offshore between Buffalo and Chautauqua County, citing costs. The authority is now working with downstate power providers to explore the feasibility of wind turbines off the shore of Long Island.