NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York could create as many as 50,000 jobs by converting 45 percent of its electricity needs to renewable energy sources by 2015, Governor David Paterson said on Monday as he unveiled plans to reduce the state’s reliance on Wall Street.
Paterson proposed modernizing the electricity grid, making broadband technology available throughout the state and investing $600 million into stem cell research over 10 years.
New York ranks behind only California in stem cell research, thanks to $118 million of investments in the past three years or so, Paterson said in a speech to the New York Academy of Science.
The stem cell fund would have to win the legislature’s approval before it adjourns in about two weeks, as would some of other initiatives, said Paterson. These include reform of Empire Zone tax credits, which critics say failed to create jobs.
Developing new batteries needed for solar and wind energy was one of Paterson’s major thrusts.
“Whoever learns to store energy in this country first will replenish their economy for years to come,” he said.
Paterson also announced a matching grant program that will add 10 percent to every stimulus dollar that state research centers get from the federal government.
Such grant-sweeteners have already won the state over 50 percent of federal grants for advanced batteries, he said.
New York’s economy, which has relied on the financial sector to pay a fifth of its taxes, has been hurt by losses on Wall Street. New York City is also home to top teaching hospitals and state universities that Paterson hopes will join with industry via a task force.
A number of states, including New Jersey and Texas, are vying to lead stem cell research, and others are also focusing on green energy.
Though Paterson said energy is “probably the greatest job creator,” he also stressed improving education, saying that once the economy revives, he will finish major investments begun a few years ago and increase college loans.
Nanotechnology and agriculture were other promising fields, he said.
Noting New York led the nation with canals, steamships, light bulbs, radio and television broadcasts and power lines, the governor called on state agencies to develop “smart grid programs,” saying the current transmission system was so outdated that inventor Thomas Alva Edison would see few changes.
He urged the Public Service Commission to release $100 million by summer’s end for “shovel-ready” renewable projects.
Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Leslie Adler