News and Legislative Memos

Energy from Waste is Renewable Under NYS Law

IPPNY encourages PSC to accept EfW as a renewable energy source eligible for RPS inclusion

Albany, NY., 8/11/11 - The Independent Power Producers of New York, Inc. (IPPNY) is urging the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) to accept Covanta Energy Corporation’s petition to include Energy from Waste (EfW) as an eligible renewable technology under New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). “Covanta’s cutting-edge technology to process the vast amount of waste our society produces and transform it into energy is an innovative way to reuse refuse for positive environmental gain,” said IPPNY President & CEO Gavin J. Donohue. “This modern technology is not the same as incineration, and it is a low-emitting way to create energy while avoiding increased reliance on landfills or transporting waste through communities out-of-state. EfW is recognized by both NYS energy and environmental laws. I encourage the PSC to approve EfW’s inclusion as an eligible technology under New York’s RPS in line with other states and pave the way for more innovation in new sources of energy.”

Today, waste is defined as a renewable energy resource by existing New York State Energy Law and the PSC should follow suit and include it as part of the RPS. Of the states that have an RPS, New York is the only one that excludes EfW as an allowable technology. Similar RPS programs now exist in many other states, including the surrounding states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, and recognize EfW as an eligible RPS technology. EfW is defined as renewable in 25 states -- including New York -- and in numerous federal statutes and policies.

EfW is strongly supported by public officials for inclusion in the state’s RPS. Current NYS Environmental Conservation Law expresses a preference for EfW facilities over landfills for the management of solid waste that cannot be reused or recycled. The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the compatibility of EfW with recycling. EfW operations are not fairly characterized as incineration, which involves combustion without energy recovery. The state’s database from compliance tests at each EfW facility in New York shows that air emissions from these facilities are far less than those emitted by the comparatively uncontrolled incineration facilities operated in past decades. The environmental benefits of EfW facilities, including addressing climate change, are detailed by Covanta’s RPS petition, and this technology will assist New York State’s goals for investment in a clean energy economy.

The NYS RPS was established in 2004 after extensive stakeholder input and public hearings across New York State. The review of new technologies for consideration for inclusion was part of the original RPS agreement.

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The Independent Power Producers of New York, Inc. (IPPNY) is an Albany-based trade association representing the competitive power supply industry in New York State. IPPNY Members generate over 75 percent of New York's electricity using a wide variety of generating technologies and fuels including hydro, nuclear, wind, coal, oil, natural gas and biomass.