January 20, 2022

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Build Back Better or not, green energy will charge ahead, say policymakers

ALBANY – Even if President Joe Biden’s full $2 trillion Build Back Better plan isn’t passed in  the near term, many of the green energy proposals such as tax credits and other incentives could be passed separately, policymakers said on Friday.

“The optimal is Build Back Better,” New York’s 20th District Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko said. “But we’re also in the midst of our appropriations bills,” he added. “If we get  Build Back Better, that’s a home run. Otherwise, if there are essential needs, incentives that are required, they can be taken up at the appropriations table.”

“Everybody feels a sense of urgency about getting these incentives going. In one way or another we are determined to get these incentives,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

Tonko and Granholm, a former Michigan governor, were among officials at the Port of Albany to celebrate the finalization of several large contracts to build and operate a series of massive wind turbines off the coast of Long Island. They were joined by Gov. Kathy Hochul and executives of state agencies as well as several wind turbine and energy companies, including Equinor Wind, BP and Marmen Welcon.

“Welcome to the future,” Hochul said in remarks given in a cavernous barn-like building at the port, where the backdrop included a locomotive and pieces of heavy equipment. “This is what the future looks like for the green energy economy.”

The projects will support the state’s goal of developing 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035. That could power 6 million homes.

The wind turbine initiative, started by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and carried on by Hochul after she became governor when Cuomo stepped down in August, translates into a lot of development and new jobs for the Albany area.

MarmenWelcon, for instance, plans to build the approximately 400-foot-tall towers supporting the turbines at a planned expansion of the Port of Albany into the neighboring town of Bethlehem, creating hundreds of construction and permanent manufacturing jobs.

Much of New York’s, and the nation’s, push toward carbon-free green energy, though, relies on a proposed menu of tax breaks and other incentives included in Biden’s Build Back Better plan. That ambitious plan, which would also expand programs such as child care benefits and early education initiatives, has been held up in a closely divided Senate with moderate West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin saying he won’t support it due to the cost. The entire GOP conference also opposes BBB, and there’s no immediate end to that deadlock.

With that in mind, Tonko and Granholm said, when questioned, that they might have to rely on other legislative moves, such as appropriations or separate pieces of legislation to move the green energy incentives forward.

Despite the uncertainty about paying for it, lawmakers on Friday cheered the progress they have made toward getting the massive wind tower project going.

A year ago, many of the same players gathered outside at the port (Friday’s event was indoors) to celebrate the news that the port would host the wind tower manufacturing plant. And more recently in October, representatives from Orsted wind as well as Riggs & Distler construction and Eversource utilities announced a deal in which platforms for the offshore towers would be built at the Port of Coeymans, which is also on the Hudson River about 10 miles south.

The towers and platforms will be moved to Long Island on barges, which Granholm noted is another source of employment. “The barges have to be built somewhere. Those are more jobs,” she said.

 

 

 

 

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