Policy:

Letter of Opposition to Proposed Wage and Material Mandates on Renewable Energy Projects

March 18, 2021

Dear Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Stewart Cousins and Speaker Heastie:

The undersigned are writing to share our concern and opposition to provisions included in the Senate and Assembly one-house budget bills related to new labor and material requirements on renewable energy projects, and we urge the Executive and the Legislature to reject these proposals.

Specifically, the Senate budget bill (S.2506-B, Part AA) and the Assembly budget bill (A.3006-B, Part AA) would: (i) require renewable energy projects to have a project labor agreement with organized labor to provide workers for “necessary operations and maintenance services” associated with the project; (ii) require renewable energy projects to use iron and structural steel in such projects that is “produced or made in whole or substantial part in the United States, its territories or possessions”; and (iii) subject to the prevailing wage requirement any renewable energy project over 5 megawatts (MW) (alternating current) that receives any public funds and which involves the procurement of renewable energy credits by a public entity or agent third-party.

The renewable energy industry is proud to have worked closely and collaboratively with our New York State government partners to promote our shared goals of developing renewable energy capacity to ensure New York has the necessary supply of cost-effective energy to power our homes, businesses and economy, while also seeking to reverse the dramatic increases in greenhouse gas emissions which have had devastating impacts upon our climate. Our collaboration has resulted in numerous nation-leading policies, including the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, that provide a roadmap for the Federal government and other states to battle climate change. We do not want to see our progress and path to a zero- carbon energy supply threatened, especially given our many recent challenges and what is at stake.

And, while our renewable energy industries appreciate organized labor’s interest in renewables projects and we share the goal of creating good jobs for New Yorkers, these aforementioned proposals will be damaging in our efforts to meet the state’s climate and environmental goals—at worst, and are unnecessary or premature—at best.

To begin with, the renewable energy industry is only now beginning to recover from the economic shutdown experienced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The solar industry, for instance, was prohibited from continuing to develop projects during NY PAUSE, resulting in a significant contraction in the industry. Some companies, suppliers, and related employers that entered into NY PAUSE never emerged. In light of this economic environment, requiring additional mandates at this time could be damaging to our joint renewable energy efforts.

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