NY PSC defers response on MSW RPS qualification

By Lisa Gibson | November 17, 2011

The New York State Public Service Commission has deferred its decision on a request from Covanta Energy to make energy from waste (EfW) applications eligible for inclusion in the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), and therefore eligible for state subsidies.

Covanta filed the petition in February, and expected a response Nov. 17. The petition states, "In contrast to other RPS technologies, EfW is not intermittent in nature and is a reliable base-load supply of renewable energy that decreases dependence on fossil fuels while increasing diversity of energy generation in New York State as a whole as well as within the RPS program itself. In addition to providing base-load fuel diversity … EfW generates substantially more electricity than LFGTE (landfill-gas-to-energy)—an RPS eligible technology—while using the same amount of waste, and does so in a more environmentally efficient manner. Accordingly, EfW should be deemed an eligible technology under New York's RPS program.”

The commission gave no definitive date for its response, and James Regan, manager of corporate communications and media relations for Covanta, said he doesn’t have a prediction as to what the response will be. “It’s still wait and see,” he said. “We were glad to hear the commission wants to know more about how other states handle it.” He added that the commission also will look into how municipal solid waste-to-energy is handled in Europe.

The request for RPS inclusion covers only new plants, not existing ones, as well as expansions. Regan said Covanta has no proposals on the table in New York currently.

“We should be part of [the RPS] as well,” he said. “We outperform landfill gas on emissions and on energy.”