New York’s Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA) demonstrates the strength of grassroots movements and the potential of publicly owned utilities to lead the way in the adoption of renewable energy.
This serves as a reminder that decentralised power structures can be more agile and responsive to the needs of the public. When communities have a say in decision-making processes, they can make bold moves towards a sustainable future, create new jobs, and ensure equitable access to clean, affordable energy. ✊
New York state has passed legislation that will scale up the state’s renewable energy production and signals a major step toward moving utilities out of private hands to become publicly owned.
The Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA) will ensure that all state-owned properties that ordinarily receive power from the New York power authority (NYPA) are run on renewable energy by 2030. It will also require municipally owned properties – including many hospitals and schools, as well as public housing and public transit – to switch to renewable energy by 2035.
The passage of this first-of-its-kind law comes after years of grassroots campaigning by climate and environmental organizers in New York state.
Historically, when utilities are owned by investors, profits go to shareholders. But in publicly owned models, profits are reinvested in the utility’s operations. Rates on energy bills are also generally lower.
The newly passed law also ensures creation of union jobs for the renewable projects, guaranteeing pay rate protection, offering retraining, and making sure that new positions are filled with workers who have lost or would be losing employment in the non-renewable energy sector.