IPPNY and Labor Coalition Offer Solutions to Avoid Potential Blackouts or Adverse Health Effects and to Ensure Labor Standards in New York’s Clean Energy Transition

By IPPNY, NYS AFL-CIO, NYS BCTC | August 22, 2023

The Independent Power Producers of New York (IPPNY), the New York State AFL-CIO, and the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council have joined forces to provide practical solutions to assist New York achieve a cleaner, more worker friendly, energy future. This coalition makes up the largest fleet of clean energy generation in the state, as well as a great number of highly skilled union workers. In 2019, New York passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act which called for a transition away from fossil fuels, thus creating a need for new technologies. Together, this coalition worked on a petition to the Public Service Commission (PSC) with a common goal to help determine the technologies that will qualify as emission free resources. The PSC recently acted on the petition, and IPPNY and Labor have submitted comments that give the PSC multiple potential solutions that not only fill the gap being created from existing resources retiring and new technologies coming onto the electric grid, but also incorporate labor standards, such as prevailing wage, project labor agreements, labor peace provisions and Buy American contracting goals.

New York State has set itself down a path to the most aggressive clean energy transition in the nation and it is imperative that it is done the right way while adhering to the numerous warnings demonstrated by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). Furthermore, blackouts or adverse health effects have been predicted if a clean energy transition is not pursued in a responsible manner. The suggestions within this coalition’s comments would collectively attract private sector investment and create thousands of family-sustaining, union careers, while maintaining the strict reliability standards of our grid along New York’s path to a cleaner energy future.

Under this joint petition, the PSC would establish a new Clean Energy Standard tier for a competitive program to encourage private sector investment in zero emission technologies. Further, it calls upon the PSC to establish a competitive program to foster the development of, and investment in, a minimum of 1 GW of zero emissions energy systems to reach the Climate Law’s benchmark of a zero emissions electric grid by 2040 target. According to the NYISO’s latest report, 27 – 45 GW of these technologies will have to be on the system by 2040. That goal will be less attainable, and the economic and career opportunities for hard working New Yorkers will be lost, if the first GW is not started on immediately. This program would identify and develop these necessary resources. For reference, 1 GW of electricity is enough to power roughly 750,000 homes, illustrating the monumental amount of generation that will be required to reach our climate targets. The solutions presented by IPPNY and Labor are the first necessary steps in the right direction for a cleaner energy system in New York.

In order to transition away from fossil fuels while maintaining reliability, all solutions must be on the table. Nuclear, hydrogen, renewable natural gas, and carbon capture and sequestration are among some of the technologies discussed within the comments submitted to the Commission. New York already has a strong nuclear make up as the resource generated about 21% of the State’s energy in 2022 while emitting no greenhouse gases. The low marginal cost and simple operation technology makes existing nuclear a great baseload resource, and modifications are possible to the existing plants to make them operate flexibly in the future. Nuclear technology also opens the door for pink hydrogen, which can be stored to deal with future peak loads during times of high demand. While nuclear makes up about one-fifth of New York’s energy mix, we need to build on that and continue to develop these new technologies for a clean energy transition. IPPNY’s Members represent all forms of energy generation and will be key proponents as the PSC determines the technological solutions to achieve our climate goals.

IPPNY President and CEO Gavin J. Donohue said: “We commend the PSC for reviewing the petition that will attract developers in this market, create thousands of jobs, and set New York on a sustainable path towards meeting our clean energy goals by defining zero emission resources. IPPNY and Labor are taking an ‘all of the above’ approach looking at existing solutions such as nuclear, hydrogen, renewable natural gas, etc., and we are continuing to leave the door open for future advancements. Our organizations will be part of the solution when a clear message is sent from the PSC about qualifying resources.”

Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO said: “We commend the PSC for taking up this petition. We must now seize the opportunity to create and maintain good union jobs while ensuring reliability. Workers will perform the substantive work of climate change mitigation and achieving the State’s emissions reduction goals; protecting their rights and interests must remain a priority of the State.”

Gary LaBarbera, President of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council said: “We thank the PSC for its role in pushing forward clean energy initiatives that will propel the State’s decarbonization efforts in an effective and reliable manner that improves the lives of all New Yorkers. We are confident that, through these recommendations, we can not only mindfully achieve our clean energy goals, but also create thousands of good paying union careers that uplift hardworking people and provide them, their families, and their communities with opportunities to pursue the middle class and reap the full economic benefits of these investments from the State. Our fleet of highly skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen stand at the ready to assume their roles as catalysts in kickstarting and skillfully completing these projects that will be crucial in creating a more sustainable and healthier living environment for New York’s future generations.”

John J. Murphy, International Representative for United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters said: “We praise the PSC for its efforts in promoting the development of alternative clean energy sources, which are critically needed to ensure New York maintains a reliable supply of power as it seeks to decarbonize its economy. In addition, we are promoting qualitybased contracting measures and progressive labor provisions for this new program to protect future investments and to create maximum employment and training opportunities for New Yorkers from these projects.”

In crafting comments, IPPNY contracted with Sargent and Lundy, a world-renowned engineering firm, to help provide real world expertise on existing zero emissions technologies. These efforts offered multiple paths the PSC should seriously consider as they determine what emissions free technologies will meet the future peak demand on New York’s electricity grid. IPPNY’s Members will provide the majority of investment in the technologies chosen, and the Labor partners will supply the bulk of the workforce, comprised of skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen who will take this investment and translate it to steel in the ground.


IPPNY, established in 1986, is a premier trade association dedicated to the representation of the State’s electric generation fleet, which powers New York’s economy. IPPNY Members produce clean electricity generation in this state; our Members have been successfully awarded more than half of the renewable energy credit contract awards from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, are leading proponents of meeting the State’s energy goals, while maintaining reliability, and are operating the facilities and making investments in additional ones to achieve the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s targets. IPPNY Members also produce more than 75 percent of the State’s power from a multitude of fuel sources, such as: wind, solar, hydro, energy storage, natural gas, low sulfur oil, waste-toenergy, biomass, and nuclear. In combination, these resources maintain electric system reliability and “keep the lights on” for more than 19 million New Yorkers every day. Additionally, IPPNY’s Members have invested more than $10 billion in capital improvements at their facilities, employ over 10,000 people across the State, and pay approximately $1.7 billion in local property taxes annually. IPPNY does not represent investor-owned utilities or power authorities.

About The New York State AFL-CIO
The New York State AFL-CIO is a federation of 3,000 unions, representing 2.5 million members, retirees and their families with one goal; to raise the standard of living and quality of life of all working people. We keep New York State Union Strong by fighting for better wages, better benefits and better working conditions. For more information on the Union Movement in New York, visit www.nysaflcio.org.

About The New York State Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC)
Established in 1958, the NYS Building & Construction Trades Council currently represents over 200,000 unionized construction workers in New York State. Our 15 local building trades councils, 12 district councils and state associations, and 135 local unions represent the trades that build our roads, bridges, schools, and office buildings. Believing that every worker deserves a fair wage and safe working conditions, our mission is to protect and further these basic privileges.