A "highly electrified" New York grid fed by wind, solar and hydro power will see a dramatic increase in overall electricity usage and a major shift in the time of year people and businesses use that power, according to a top state energy official.

At a virtual conference Thursday sponsored by the Long Island Association, Doreen Harris, chief executive of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said New York will effectively double its electric use by 2050, as the state shifts customers away from natural gas and fuel-oil-based systems to new green energy sources. Electric cars and trucks will be among the biggest drivers of the shift in demand, she said.

Harris and NYSERDA are formulating long and short-term plans to implement the transition to comply with a 2019 state law by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature that calls for zero emissions from power sources statewide by 2040, with the bulk of the work taking place by 2030.

It’s a plan that will include public hearings starting on Long Island as soon as this spring, Harris said. And it’s one that will bring vast new opportunities for businesses, workers and disadvantaged communities, all of which are vital components of the transition.

"The benefits of action are certainly worth it," Harris said, "from a greenhouse gas perspective, [but] also from a health perspective," including fewer hospitalizations and deaths tied to dirty emissions. "There are also tremendous economic benefits that come from these investments."

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s latest budget calls for $500 million in new port infrastructure that will not only serve as hubs for a burgeoning offshore wind industry but also a vast new supply chain to support it. She’s called for doubling the deployment of new energy storage batteries by 2030, to 6,000 megawatts, and a big increase in solar power distributed throughout the grid, to 10,000 megawatts by 2030.

The state already has plans for at least 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. LIPA-contracted South Fork Wind Farm, at 130 megawatts, is expected to start land-based construction next week.

The state's plan for "wind, water and solar" to be the predominant sources of generation serving New Yorkers by 2040 and 2050 is needed not only to achieve the carbon-free goals by 2050, Harris said, but also because "we see a future in our state that is highly electrified."

That means "buildings that are heated with [all-electric] heat pumps instead of oil or gas," she said. "We also see a future where our transportation options are highly electrified, particularly from a passenger-vehicle perspective."

There are around 50,000 registered electric vehicles on state roads, according to a report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on Friday, which found the New York Power Authority had fallen short on its plans to install enough chargers to accommodate them. Harris said the state expects to have 850,000 EVs on the road by 2025, serviced by some 50,000 chargers.

That increased use of electricity to power up cars and heat homes and buildings means that energy use, which has been declining across the state and Long Island for the past decade, will see sharp increases, she said.

Peak energy use on the grid, she said, "will shift from the summer, when we see peaks on hot summer days [with] a lot of air conditioning use, to a winter-peaking system because of the utilization of these technologies in our buildings," notably heat pumps.

The evolution to a highly electrified infrastructure means more jobs, not just to replace current fossil-fuel based positions but entirely new ones.

"New York stands to see 10 jobs added in these growing clean-energy sectors for every job potentially displaced" in the fossil-fuel and related sectors, Harris said, leading to an increase of 268,000 new jobs, including at least 30,000 on Long Island, from a current statewide clean-energy workforce of some 150,000 jobs. Most will be in the building sector, she added.

The state's plan includes making sure that job opportunities and economic gains break down "barriers to utilization" for underserved communities, she said, including programs to subsidize heat pumps and solar panels for low- and moderate income residents.

Hochul’s budget calls for new legislation proposing all new building construction reach zero emissions by 2027. She also calls for 2 million "climate-friendly" homes by 2030, with "strong benefits" for some 800,000 low- and moderate-income residents.

Harris said the state will work to maximize new federal infrastructure programs and spending to help support New York's aggressive goals, including the Biden administration's plan for more offshore leasing of wind farms off Long Island.

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