Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top environmental aide said today that the administration views natural gas as a potential bridge to a “clean energy economy.”
Answering questions following a news conference on solar energy, Cuomo’s Deputy Secretary for Energy and the Environment Robert Hallman said the administration sees natural gas as a step toward cleaner energy.
“Everybody that looks at this — I guess to use it in a somewhat pejorative way — intelligently or broadly looks at natural gas as kind of a bridge fuel to a time when we’re going to have a pure clean energy economy,” Hallman said. “That’s the way we look at it. That’s the way we think it should be looked at.”
The Cuomo administration is weighing whether to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in New York. Supporters of hydrofracking and expanded gas drilling point to natural gas’ potential as a transition fuel as a reason for exploiting the natural resource from formations such as the Marcellus Shale. Opponents, however, say the environmental risks involved with the heavy industrial activity are too great.
Hallman’s answer was in response to a question on the state’s ongoing investment in solar energy, and whether it is wise given that natural gas is selling at decade-low prices and in abundant supply.
“In our view, there’s no better time and no more important time to invest in renewables than now, where you point out the price of natural gas right now is very low,” Hallman said. “Who knows what it’s going to be in five, seven or 10 years. We need to continue to support renewable, we need to continue a broad portfolio for energy security reasons, for environmental reasons and for just good policy reasons.”
State officials took questions at a news conference after announcing Cuomo signed three bills today that extend tax credits to consumers and businesses that purchase or lease solar energy equipment.
One of the new laws gives consumers a tax credit of up to $5,000 spread over 14 years to homeowners who execute a lease or power-purchase agreement for solar equipment.
The other two new laws exempts commercial solar energy systems from state sales taxes, while the third extends a solar credit in New York City.