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NY State's Energy Plan Is A Disaster Waiting to Happen

image credit: Richard Ellenbogen 12-25-2022
Richard Ellenbogen's picture
President, Allied Converters, Inc.

BS - EE Cornell University 1978 MS - EE Cornell University 1979 Experience with Fabrication of Electric Vehicles Bell Telephone Laboratories - Power Systems Lab Power Supply Testing Automation...

  • Member since 2022
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  • Mar 13, 2023

I have been working on energy issues in NY State for about four years.  The remarks of one of  the recent news items in Energy Central, "A Plugged In Blackout", echo what I have been trying to tell NY State policy makers for four years.  What he stated in that news piece can be backed up with extensive calculations that I have done for NY State.

Please see the Youtube video  link below for a Senate press conference regarding energy issues in NY State.  The backup info for the $3.4 Trillion energy storage  remark is below in two images from the NY State Energy Storage Report.  Calculations are on the bottom of second page (page 92).   The entire Energy Storage Report, released on February 9, 2023 can be found at the following link:

The Senate Press Conference is at the following link:

There is also a bar graph below of NY State's existing fossil fuel usage vs the load if it was electrified vs the amount of storage vs the amount of planned renewable energy installation by 2035.   The bar graph clearly shows the energy shortfall.   Additionally,  they are falling behind on that renewable energy installation schedule which I mentioned at the press conference.  NY State has mandated that all of their electric generation be carbon free by 2040.

The Trillion dollars on the bar graph is based upon 4GW for 960 hours at a cost of $280/KWh.  I made the graph in December before NY State sent me the link to their report in February.  It was done for a presentation for some State Senators to explain to them why they wouldn't be able to execute their plan.   The $ 3.4 Trillion is for 6 GW for 1000 hours at $567/KWh.  The $3.4 Trillion dollar amount reflects the figures in NY State's Energy Storage Report.

The numbers are real and they are a major deterrent to implementing these projects.

There is an abundance of other information at the website:

Based upon reading about current events in many states, the issues facing NY State regarding their utility system are also being experienced in other states also.

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Mar 13, 2023

NYS has a tough problem like many states. Too bad they don't have a bigger amount of the power from Niagara Falls. Most of it is allocated to Canada. Wind is a big one for them. Solar is on the low side but can work. Renewable Energy is not easy in NYS. I used to live in Syracuse in CNY. When I moved to Arizona I installed Solar my 1st year in AZ. We have an abundance of Solar Energy. 

    Energy efficiency is a big one for everyone. The weather gets pretty cold there so energy efficiency can really be a big savings. Insulation pays off very well in any climate. It's best to use all means to save energy and produce more renewable. We need every method to save. 

Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Mar 14, 2023

Richard, Welcome to the community, and thanks for this post.  I look forward to reading more insights from you in the near future.  I would love to hear about your progress as you continue to work with NY around their energy issues. 

Doug Houseman's picture
Doug Houseman on Mar 14, 2023

Mr. Ellenbogen -

Storage comes in many types and flavors. 

I absolutely agree with your concerns and your numbers if New York wants to only use Lithium based storage - with one difference FDNY will not allow Lithium based storage, under any conditions into NYC. So the barriers are even steeper than you indicate.

However there are much lower cost options for storage that also are far more environmentally friendly and for which the supply chains are not as big an issue as Lithium based batteries are.

Based on current industry fully installed costs for Lithium ($1000/kWh) for installation in 2025, your $3.4 Trillion is highly conservative. 

Based on the MW/MWH of storage that NY state wants, your $3.4 Trillion could drop to as little as $400 billion, and with proper site selection it could drop even further. For some types of storage 100 or even 1,000 hours gets cheaper as the hours of storage goes up, which for Lithium is barely true (Balance of plant costs come down, but the storage costs are straight line level).

Richard Ellenbogen's picture
Richard Ellenbogen on Mar 14, 2023


Thanks for the comment.  Even $400 billion  amounts to $21,000 for every person in NY State.  What technologies are you referring to because battery life is critical.  If they only last ten years, a family of four would effectively be paying $8,000 per year just for battery storage in perpetuity, not including anything else on the utility system.  Even that small of a number is unworkable and not financially viable.  NYSERDA was referring to Lithium based storage in their Energy Storage document.  Regarding your comment about Lithium Ion Storage in NY City, the Ravenswood project in Queens is Lithium Ion based, although the FDNY has been extremely resistant to onsite battery storage at non-generating plant locations.  Based upon the recent history with scooter/ebike batteries in NY City, that resistance is not unjustified and will only increase.


Pumped Storage in NY State is not a viable option for any large scale storage, either.  Con Ed tried for 20 years to build a facility at Storm King Mountain and eventually gave up.  With the population density of NY State, finding a suitable location to locate a large reservoir to support any significant capacity for that purpose will be next to impossible.

Beyond the storage issues are the generation issues.  Where is the energy to charge the batteries going to come from ?  If you look at the bar graph included with the original post, the renewable  energy shown is a fraction of what NY State is going to need to support just the existing electric load by 2040, let alone all of the electrification that they have mandated.  I originally made that graph in March 2019 and have adjusted it slightly for more recent data, but the renewable installation numbers in the right hand column were theirs.   In 2019, I told them that they wouldn't be able to build and interconnect enough generation to support their system.  In the past few months, there have been numerous articles written about how renewable projects are being canceled because of the high interconnection costs.  NY State doesn't have the grid infrastructure in place to allow for short interconnection runs for these projects.  People were making me aware of that back in 2018 when they were complaining about what the state was requiring them to do in order to interconnect.

This is all occurring while NY State has committed to shuttering their fossil fuel plants by 2040 while simultaneously electrifying transportation and onsite heating.

The entire concept is unworkable given the facts on the ground.  It is going to result in blackouts and 2021 Texas type power problems in an even colder climate.

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Mar 15, 2023

Will the Champlain Hudson Power Express project make any difference in this scenario?

«Work has begun on a high-profile transmission project that will funnel clean power directly into New York City.»

«The buried cables will deliver 1,250 megawatts of hydropower from Canadian utility Hydro-Québec, beginning beneath Lake Champlain, moving underground near Schenectady and Albany, then running below the Hudson River until eventually connecting to a new converter station in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens.»


«The Champlain Hudson Power Express is one of two major HVDC lines to receive approval this year from the Public Service Commission, the state’s utility regulator. The second project is an $11 billion initiative called Clean Path New York that would bundle a 174-mile transmission line with about 3,400 megawatts of new wind and solar capacity.»

Richard Ellenbogen's picture
Richard Ellenbogen on Mar 15, 2023


No.  That energy is already in the graph.  If you look at the right hand column, there is  an arrow with a CHPE 1.2 GW.  (Champlain Hudson Power Express)  Further, unbeknownst to many, that power can be curtailed when the energy is needed in Quebec.  So if there is a large Polar Vortex that affects both Quebec and NY City, NY City is out of luck.  That actually happened earlier this winter when NY City reached 5 degrees-F and Montreal was at -9 degrees-F.  Had that cable been active and NY City had been electrified and relying on the energy, people would have frozen to death as they did in Texas two years ago.

The other problem is that CHPE was originally proposed in 2011 and approved by the PSC in 2013 with an intended start date  of 2016.  Shovels did not go into the ground until December 2022 with an operational date of 2026, 10 years late and 15 years after it was proposed.  NY wants to add 5 more cables from Quebec as part of their plan but it will take years to get the approvals and there is now some question as to whether or not Quebec has enough available energy to supply that much to NY State.  Regardless, any operational date would still be way after the 2040 date when they want to shut down the fossil fuel plants.


Peter Farley's picture
Peter Farley on Mar 16, 2023

Where do you get this magic 960 hours of storage from? While I know that the climate is very different South Australia is already running at almost 75% renewables with a few minutes' storage and zero hydro, by 2025 it will be 85% renewable with about an hour's storage. Denmark an even higher figure again with virtually no storage.

Any sensible generation system has at least 35% annual excess capacity. For example, the US in 2010 had more than 1,100GW of coal, gas, nuclear and hydro to supply an annual average of 480 GW. Even allowing for practical limitations on hydro and gas combustion turbines, there was still at least 35-40% more annual capacity than the country needed, but to achieve 99.95% supply the system must have a lot of redundancy.  So, by 2040, that will mean that on the windiest sunny spring and fall days, only 20-30% of wind and solar energy will be used directly, 20-40% diverted to storage or displacing hydro/biomass etc and 20-30% spilled, but on poor wind/solar days the displaced hydro/biomass can combined with the uncurtailed wind/solar to supply 65% or so of energy demand. Thus, demand response/storage will rarely be required to provide more than 40% of the load for a day, 25% for a week and almost never will there be a deficit for a month.

This can be demonstrated by looking at the monthly variability of combined renewables in Victoria state in Australia, warmer, but less hydro than New York. Or Germany, similar temperatures but a much lower hydro share and higher population density. 

Integrating thermal storage/ice in buildings and even just running heatpumps to take advantage of high renewables to raise or lower the building fabric temperature 1-2C will supply almost half the storage you need. New York has 9.5 million registered vehicles, by 2040 90% of those will be electrified. Changing the state of charge from 75% to 45% will provide about 200 GWh of storage.

The net result is that if New York State needs more than 25GW/300GWh of new on grid storage it will mean that there has been a massive failure of planning somewhere. Of that it is unlikely that even half of it is lithium based. Zinc, sodium, vanadium, calcium, aluminium and iron are all candidates and there will almost certainly some pumped hydro. Just because it wasn't done in the past when it wasn't really needed doesn't mean it won't be done in future.

You may well be right that New York is not building enough renewables, but focussing on storage at this stage of the electrification path, is the wrong target particularly when you are overstating the deficit by an order of magnitude     

Richard Ellenbogen's picture
Richard Ellenbogen on Mar 20, 2023


The two operative words in your statement are "sensible" and "climate".  It is an error that I have to answer for people all of the time.  Renewable generation is not a one size fits all and there are several factors that directly affect the ease of installation.  It is also an error that was recently made by the NY City Council and one that is about to be made by NY State.

Looking at the word "climate", you are taking probably what is the best climate on earth for renewable generation and applying with a broad brush to other areas.  By climate, I am referring to both the physical climate and the social climate.  Australia, in its entirety, has 25.7 million people on just under 3 million square miles.  Focusing on South Australia, there are 1.7 million people on 380,000 square miles.  NY State has 19.5 million people on 54,500 square miles.  11.5 times as many people on one-seventh of the land area.  That makes installation of renewable generation much more challenging. 

Regarding the social climate, judging by what I saw in a shopping mall in Melbourne when I was there in 2019, Australians are far more civically minded than New Yorkers and I have lived in or near New York my entire life.  In Melbourne, I watched a woman walk over to a random piece of garbage on the floor, pick it up, and walk over to a trash container to throw it out.  As beautiful as Australia is, beyond walking to the top of the Sidney Harbor Bridge, that left one of the more lasting impressions on me.  That would never happen at a mall in New York.  It is evident in the streets, as well.  Australia has arguably the cleanest cities that I have ever seen and I have traveled to many cities in the US and Europe.  Why that fact is important is that every renewable project that they try to build in NY State  is challenged, from large projects such as pumped storage and buried power cables to small ones like solar farms.  NY State also has more lawyers per capita than any place in the United States except Washington DC., so no matter where you try to site something, there is a lawyer living nearby getting an injunction to stop it.  Con Ed, NY City’s utility, spent 20 years trying to build a pumped storage facility on the Hudson River at Storm King Mountain.  They finally gave up after about five Energy Department approvals and five court injunctions, and the groups that were protesting the project were environmentalists.  So the addition of pumped hydro will be a non starter for any utility in NY State. It will have taken 15 years to complete the Champlain Hudson Power Express between concept and its projected start date in 2026.  It took over 11 years just to get a shovel in the ground after all of the lawsuits.  In the interim, the price has tripled from $2 billion to $6 billion, but actually a 230% increase in inflation adjusted dollars.  Princeton University recently did a study of NIMBY (Not in my backyard) issues in the US regarding renewables and one of the conclusions was that areas that have a lot of geographical features such as mountains and water have far higher levels of NIMBY sentiment.  That type of topography proliferates in NY State.  It is entirely rolling hills, mountains, lakes, and ocean front.  That explains why you will see massive wind farms in West Texas and in Indiana in the soybean fields, and the installation of a small 5 megawatt solar farm was defeated in Greenburg, NY which is a liberal, pro-renewable enclave in Westchester County just north of NY City.

Regarding the physical climates of the two areas, South Australia is probably the best place on Earth to phase out fossil fuel combustion.  It has a Mediterranean Climate with few cloudy days where the low in winter is 41 degrees-F and the average low is 47 degrees-F.

I live near NY City and last night, on the first day of Spring, it was 32 degrees-F.  In upstate NY, it was far colder.  Heat Pumps in South Australia will run in their sweet spot with a COP of about 4.5 and during the shorter days of winter, will actually use less energy than during the South Australia Summer when the days are longer and solar output is higher.   With a few hours of battery storage, the solar output can be carried from day to night without any issues.  The Orange and Gray Areas shown in the left hand column of the graph above for NY are almost non-existent in South Australia.  NY State has just the opposite of that.  Heat pumps will operate with a COP of between 3 on some of the warmer winter days down to 1.0 on some of the colder days.  The NYISO (NY Independent System Operator) has predicted needing an additional 25 Gigawatts of generation to support the winter electrification of onsite heating.  I own two solar arrays and they generate about 11% of their energy between December and February when NY State is coldest and the heat pumps will need them most.  That is why the massive amounts of storage will be needed.  The 960 hours was an estimate that I did after looking at the energy table above, and that is likely low.  Further, if you look at the energy chart, there will not even be enough renewable generation available to charge the batteries.  That fossil fuel generation load shown in the chart is what is needed after figuring in the Hydropower from Niagara Falls so that can’t be included.  The recently released NYSERDA (NY State Energy Research and Development Authority) projects a need for 1000+ hours of Lithium battery storage, more than what I put in the chart.   The batteries have to carry Renewable Generation for nine months, from Spring to Winter, not a few hours as in South Australia. That is NY State's estimate, not mine although in looking at the numbers, they are correct.  Further, they say that because of the five year long approval process, other storage technologies cannot be considered as they are not ready for commercial installation at this point and by the time that they are, it will be too late to meet NY State’s deadlines.  The two pages that I included from their energy storage report clearly document this.

Further, NY State has committed to banning the purchase of Internal Combustion Engine vehicles by 2035.  With 1.7 million people people, South Australia will have a far lower gasoline consumption than the 19.5 million population of NY State (The light blue area in the left hand column of the graph), so that energy needs to be supplied somehow also.

Which brings me to the word “sensible”. In the environment that I described above, NY State has committed to shuttering all of its fossil fuel plants by 2040 - 2050.  Without the fossil fuel plants, the batteries will be essential because there will be no excess generation.  The politics of fear is driving science as opposed to the reverse.  They are acting as though NY State eliminating a portion of its 350 million metric tons of GHG will somehow save the world while China, India, and other countries added 2 billion metric tons of GHG in coal combustion alone, just last year.  A degree of perspective is needed.

California, that has committed to doing the same thing as NY State, shuttered many of their gas plants and is saying that their in-state generation is 60% carbon free.  What California doesn’t say is that they now have to import about 10 Terawatt hours of coal generation from neighboring states with a carbon footprint twice that of the natural gas plants that they shuttered.  California has a Mediterranean climate, much like South Australia.   The average winter temperature in Berkeley, California is 50 degrees-F.  In NY City, it is 32 degrees-F.  California is on the Ring of Fire and Magma is far closer to the surface so it has the largest geothermal generating plant in the world.

It has many fewer cloudy days so the capacity factor of solar in California is twice that of NY State.  Despite all of that, California has rolling blackouts in the summer. 

So, now that you are aware of all of the issues, you will understand where my numbers come from, and they are not just mine.  The state’s estimates are even higher.  I agree with you that the policy is not "sensible" but that is what we are dealing with in NY State.  They are claiming that the costs will be in the neighborhood of $200 billion, but with everything included, the costs will be over $4 Trillion.



David Rogers's picture
David Rogers on Mar 20, 2023

While not always efficient at least CALISO saw this coming and enacted Resource Adequacy program to support BESS development. Incentives and subsidies in NY don’t get you to the middle of of the river, keeping developers on the bank. NYISO AND load serving entities need to acknowledge the costs to go green and encourage well sited BESS

Richard Ellenbogen's picture
Richard Ellenbogen on Mar 20, 2023

Please see my comment above to Peter Farley.  That is the reality in NY State.  California has a very different climate and applying the math from Mediterranean climates to cold Northern US climates with dense populations will not work.  Policy makers can't seem to grasp that fact.  California, with all of its geographical advantages is still having difficulty keeping the lights on.  Massachusetts is going to have similar problems to those of NY State because they are adopting similar policies in a similar climate.


Richard Ellenbogen's picture
Thank Richard for the Post!
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