Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions



For immediate release:
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
For more information contact:
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, 516-390-7150, aesposito@citizenscampaign.org
Brian Smith, Communications and Program Director, (716) 472-4078 (mobile), bsmith@citizenscampaign.org


Clean energy advocates call on PSC to deny energy company’s ill-conceived request

Albany, NY- Clean energy advocates are calling on the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) to reject Covanta Energy Corporation’s request to include burning garbage, known as Energy from Waste (EfW), as an eligible technology under New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The PSC is accepting public comment on Covanta’s request until Friday, August 19. The groups are calling on the public to weigh in against this proposal before the close of the comment period.

“While our society produces more and more garbage, that doesn’t make it a renewable resource,” said Adrienne Esposito, CCE Executive Director. “Covanta’s request flies in the face of the intent of the RPS, and would only detract from the state’s ability to develop a clean energy economy. Citizens Campaign for the Environment strongly urges the PSC to deny Covanta’s petition.”

The RPS is funded by a small charge on utility ratepayer’s monthly electric bill. Average homeowners pay approximately 25 cents per month into the program, which totals approximately $175 million annually. If the PSC granted Covanta’s request, EfW facilities could receive funding under the RPS, redirecting limited funds away from legitimate renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. Similar past requests have been rejected by the PSC.

“The PSC has continually rejected requests to include burning garbage in the RPS, and there is nothing new in Covanta’s petition that warrants a change in the PSC’s position,” said Brian Smith, CCE’s Communications and Program Director. “It seems that you can’t keep a bad idea down. We are counting on the PSC to recognize that this petition is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and reject it outright.”

The NYS RPS was established in 2004 after extensive stakeholder input and public hearings across New York State. The RPS set a goal for producing 25% of the state’s electricity from renewable resources by the year 2013. The RPS has since been expanded to 30% renewable energy by 2015.

“Allowing trash incineration to participate in the RPS will significantly impede New York’s ability to invest in clean, emissions-free technologies like solar, wind, and hydro power,” said Carol E. Murphy, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY). “That goes against the intent of the RPS program and would be a major step back in our fight against global climate change. The economic repercussions will be substantial as well. Without the strong policies and market support that the RPS currently provides, New York will be turning its back on a growing clean energy industry that has already contributed thousands of green-collar jobs to our statewide economy and has the potential to retool our manufacturing sector.”

“Based upon New York's failed history with "waste to energy", contemplation of going back to waste incineration technologies is the very definition of insanity and subsidizing the practice is downright obscene,” said Chris Burger, Zero Waste Chair of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "New York has limited funds to promote wind and solar energy development- It’s unconscionable to think of redirecting those precious dollars to burning what we should be recycling."

“The public agreed to the RPS fee as a means to advance our state in developing and using clean, safe, emissions free renewable energy. It would be a breach of public trust to change course and use those funds to expand incinerators of waste. That was not part of the agreement,” Esposito concluded.

The public can submit a comment to the PSC by August 19, 2011. Comments should reference Case 03-E-0188 and can be emailed to secretary@dps.state.ny.us or mailed to:

The Honorable Jaclyn A. Brilling
New York State Public Service Commission
Agency Building 3
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12223-1350



Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org

updated by bsmith  8/10/11