New York adopts rules to phase out coal power plants by 2020

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York environmental regulators adopted rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants that will force generators to stop burning coal in the state by the end of 2020.

FILE PHOTO: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks in Central Park in New York City, New York, U.S., September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been highly critical of U.S. President Donald Trump’s support for the coal industry, said in a statement on Thursday that state’s new carbon reduction rules would deliver on his 2016 pledge to go coal-free by 2020.

“As our federal government continues to support the dying fossil fuel industry, deny climate change, and roll back environmental protections, New York is leading the nation with bold climate action to protect our planet and our communities,” Cuomo said.

Coal generated less than 1% of the electricity in New York in 2017, the most recent year available according to state and federal data.

There are four coal-fired power plants in New York with atotal capacity of around 1,640 megawatts, according to federal data. But only around 1,100 MW of coal-fired capacity was actually available for service, according to state data, since several units have not operated or burned coal in recent years due primarily to competition from cheap and abundant natural gas supplies.

One megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes.

Those plants include units at Cayuga Operating Co’s 302-MW Cayuga plant, NRG Energy Inc’s 520-MW Dunkirk and Somerset Operating Co’s 685-MW Somerset.

NRG, which mothballed the Dunkirk plant in 2016, dropped a plan to convert it from coal to natural gas in 2018.

In addition to the carbon rules, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation proposed regulations earlier this year that would restrict nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from small natural gas-fired peaking power plants.

Cuomo said the emission control rules will help move the state closer to meeting the Green New Deal he announced in 2019, which requires the state’s power to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2040.

The state has also mandated that 70%t of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. New York currently gets about 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, according to federal energy data.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish and Marguerita Choy