We must focus on longterm energy needs
With all the excitement about the solar eclipse, it was easy to forget the 14th anniversary of an event that actually did plunge New York into darkness: the 2003 Northeast Blackout. Unlike the eclipse, the blackout had devastating consequences for New York, including an estimated $1 billion in economic damage and the tragic loss of 90 lives.
Remembering the Northeast Blackout remains crucial because we are still at risk of large-scale blackouts.
To lessen the odds of this, we need abundant baseload power right here in New York, so that we don’t have to rely on more vulnerable out-of-state sources. Unfortunately, we’re slated to lose our single largest baseload generator of clean electricity, Indian Point, when it closes in 2021 — and replacement projects, of which many are needed, are proving both slow and expensive to develop.
We also need a transmission grid that’s robust and upto-date, neither of which properly describes ours. Siting and permitting new and upgraded lines, which our major electric utilities are thoughtfully pursuing, takes years—yet this process too is merely crawling along. Meanwhile, new technologies that require abundant electricity are growing faster than conservation measures, so demand for electric power continues to expand.
We’ve been fortunate to enjoy the solar eclipse without having had to deal with a real blackout—but that’s no cause for complacency about our long-term energy needs. The time is now for our state government to move quickly on a comprehensive plan to provide for our energy needs safely and reliably, from generation through transmission, before another large-scale blackout forces us to confront our lack of preparation.