New York state’s blueprint for reaching its statutory climate goals is robust, but not complete.

One example: On Monday, Capital Tonight spoke with Cornell University professor and Climate Action Council member Dr. Robert Howarth about how the state will need to help retrofit millions of homes that currently use natural gas for heating. According to Howarth, it will be an enormous and expensive undertaking. While the recently released draft scoping document discusses the idea of a carbon pricing, no definitive position was taken.

That is a major disappointment to another member of the council, Gavin J. Donohue, president and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York (IPPNY).

“I’m disappointed with that,” Donohue told Capital Tonight. “I think that was the most important aspect of this plan. Where is the money going to come from, and how much is it going to impact on New York residents?”

Over the next 120 days, the plan is subject to public comments. After the comment period is over, the 22-member Climate Action Council will take the comments into consideration and publish a final blueprint by the end of December 2022.

“I was one of a couple of people out of 22 members that raised the issue of knowing what the costs were,” Donohue said. “Quite frankly, we were outnumbered.”

But Donohue told Capital Tonight he would support economy-wide carbon pricing. 

According to the draft scoping document, “examples of carbon pricing include several proposals put forward by the New York State Legislature as well as a proposal from the NYISO for a fee on every ton of CO2 emission from the electricity sector.”

Carbon pricing would need to be enacted by the Legislature, which would also have to address how revenues would be appropriated.

“Establishing the level of the carbon price is a policy decision, balancing the level of reductions that would be achieved with the economic impacts of the price," the document says. "One possible approach would be to base the price on the level expected to reduce emissions to match the Climate Act GHG emission limits. Doing so would require modeling to determine what prices are required to elicit consumer behavior changes that advance progress to the 2030 and 2050 GHG emission limits and the trajectory of the price needed to achieve those limits.”

IPPNY’s Donohue also spoke with Capital Tonight about dispatchable resources, including new technologies like renewable natural gas and carbon capture sequestration.

“At the end of the day, it’s about reliability and affordability,” Donohue said. “If natural gas is going to go away which is the goal of the [Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act], what is the fuel that’s going to replace it?”