An energy official in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration said natural gas is being viewed as a potential “bridge fuel” to the future, when technological advances will presumably open the door for renewables.

During a press conference Friday, Robert Hallman, deputy secretary for the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Energy and the Environment division, said the Cuomo administration supports natural gas as part of a transition to cleaner energy sources.

“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 told The Journal News of White Plains, NY. “That’s the way we look at it. That’s the way we think it should be looked at.” Hallman fielded questions from reporters after Cuomo signed three bills that offer tax breaks for residents and businesses that deploy solar systems.

“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 renewables, we need to continue a broad portfolio for energy security reasons, for environmental reasons and for just good policy reasons.”

Cuomo is reportedly close to publicly endorsing high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF), perhaps before Labor Day (see Shale Daily, Aug. 8). The governor could also unveil a plan to allow HVHF on a limited scale initially, but under strict regulation by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and only in localities that welcome it.

In June Cuomo administration officials hinted that HVHF could first be allowed in five counties along the Pennsylvania border — including Chenango and Steuben counties — provided the DEC grants regulatory approval (see Shale Daily, June 14). Meanwhile, local governments across the state have been choosing sides in the fracking debate (see Shale Daily, June 6; June 4; May 22).

DEC regulators are working to complete the final version of a supplemental generic environmental impact statement (SGEIS) on HVHF, with plans to release its findings by the end of the year. The DEC could also unveil a set of regulations for the practice.

In July 2008 then-Gov. David Paterson ordered the DEC to complete the SGEIS, which effectively placed a moratorium on drilling horizontal wells in the New York portion of the Marcellus Shale. Paterson requested the SGEIS because the original impact statement was completed in 1992, before technological changes in shale development.