Groups urge New York State for more low-income solar options

The Million Solar Strong Campaign, a movement of leading industry, environmental, clean energy and community organizations, was joined by Brooklyn Councilman Antonio Reynoso to urge New York State and Governor Cuomo to support more solar for low-income households. The group came together to tour one of the most successful local low-income solar housing developments at The Meekerman in Williamsburg. The recently opened project, which was developed by Dunn Development Corp., demonstrates how well solar can work with affordable housing. The coalition also released a policy roadmap for how to achieve the goal of serving 100,000 low-income New York State households with solar by 2023.

“I am proud to join The Million Solar Strong Campaign in calling upon Governor Cuomo to embrace a bold vision for New York with one million homes powered by solar by 2023, including 100,000 low-income households,” said New York City Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “We can no longer look at environmental justice and social justice as two separate causes with competing interests. It is time that we get rid of that notion and recognize that environmental justice is social justice. The Million Solar Strong Campaign has demonstrated that an investment in solar can have tremendous pay-offs for low-income residents. I urge the Cuomo administration to invest aggressively in solar energy, particularly in low-income communities, to ensure the health of our shared environment.”

RELATED:  State funding paves way for solar plus storage system at New York college campus

Solar energy can help low-income communities save millions of dollars on electric bills, stabilize utility bill, improve energy and housing affordability, and building an equitable energy economy. Further, a recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report found that nearly half of all residential rooftop solar potential in the U.S. is on the dwellings of low-to-moderate income (LMI) households, representing 320 gigawatts of total solar potential.

“Governor Cuomo must ensure that New York’s transition to clean energy benefits every New Yorker,” said Melanie Santiago-Mosier, Program Director, Low-Income Solar Access, Vote Solar. “Today we’ve seen the compatibility of affordable housing and solar energy, which has proven that solar can translate to tangible benefits for those that want it. We’re calling on Governor Cuomo and his Administration to act with the urgency that our communities deserve and put New York on a path to 100,000 low-income households with solar using the policy steps outlined in the Million Solar Households policy roadmap.”

Four keys in the policy roadmap

● Accessibility and Affordability: Provide opportunities for meaningful benefits through a combination of deep energy cost savings and direct support to overcome financial and other barriers to solar access.
● Community Engagement and Energy Democracy: The critical role of community involvement in the planning and deployment of clean energy is becoming clear. Low-income communities recognize the opportunities inherent in solar deployment and often wish to have more ownership and control in the clean energy future.
● Flexibility and Sustainability: Encourage long-term, competitive market development with flexibility to best serve the low-income market segment over time and as conditions and circumstances change.
● Compatibility and Integration. Solar programs that integrate low-income energy efficiency and workforce development, business opportunities, healthy home programs and other that address the intersection of equity, energy and infrastructure.

New York currently has enough solar to power more than 200,000 households and employs 9,000 workers in the fast-growing solar industry. The coalition has also released a policy roadmap outlining robust policy recommendations to achieve the goal of one million households powered by solar.

— Solar Builder magazine

State funding paves way for solar plus storage system at New York college campus

A solar energy and battery storage system was completed on The State University of New York at New Paltz campus. The battery storage unit will be used at times of high electric demand and during emergencies or power outages to support the college’s designated emergency shelter for the campus and community at the college’s Elting Gymnasium. The project supports N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to increase the transmission of clean and renewable energy to meet an energy storage target of 1,500 megawatts in New York State by 2025.

“New Yorkers know all too well the devastating impact of climate change, and we have taken bold action to slow its effects and invest in the energies of tomorrow,” Governor Cuomo said. “This renewable energy and storage project will greatly enhance the college’s resiliency in the event of an emergency while also reducing the state’s carbon footprint and saving taxpayer dollars year-round.”

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who was present at the ribbon-cutting event, said, “This innovative project advances New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy to build a statewide energy system that is clean, resilient and affordable for all New Yorkers. Thanks to a significant investment from New York State, this project will provide great benefits to both SUNY New Paltz and the state’s electric grid.”

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Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance, Office of Governor Cuomo said, “Energy storage, especially when paired with renewable energy sources, makes up the building blocks of the Governor’s ambitious energy goals for the state. This partnership of state government entities will provide the road map to success for these rapidly emerging technologies.”

From planned research on this system, New York State utilities will be able to optimize the amount of renewable energy utilized on the state’s power grid, supporting the Governor’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030.

The $1.37 million project will install solar panels for the 217-kilowatt project on the gym’s roof and on the roof of the nearby Sojourner Truth Library to support the battery storage system. This will allow the college to utilize stored solar power during emergencies and times of peak energy demand. NYPA implemented the renewable energy and resiliency upgrades.

More than $580,000 in funding for the project from Governor Cuomo’s BuildSmart NY program, a comprehensive statewide initiative to increase energy efficiency in public buildings. $272,000 in additional funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for the solar portion of this project through NY-Sun, Governor Cuomo’s initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. An additional $189,000 came from Central Hudson Gas & Electric, the college’s local utility. The additional costs for the project were financed by NYPA and will be repaid by the college.

This project was led by NYPA in partnership with SUNY New Paltz. NYPA, NYSERDA and the Electric Power Research Institute are utilizing this project to research additional technical and economic benefits of the project. The research is being done through EPRI’s Integrated Grid initiative.

— Solar Builder magazine

New York to fund $1.4 billion in renewable energy (22 large-scale solar projects)

new york solar projects

New York has made it clear it wants nothing to do with Trump’s plans for the energy sector or the environment and has announced the next steps in its own forward-thinking agenda. It starts with aggressive pro-renewable energy plan that commits $1.4 billion to advance 26 large-scale projects across the state – 22 of which will be solar installations. At the same time, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo formally requested an exclusion from the new five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

“Instead of protecting our waters from another oil spill, like the one that devastated the Gulf, this new federal plan only increases the chances of another disaster taking place,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is a total disregard for science, reality, and history, and their actions defy everything we know. We believe the future is a clean energy economy and New York is going to lead a counter-movement to what this administration is doing to the environment and illuminate the path forward.”

Building on the momentum of these project awards, NYSERDA will issue the next solicitation for large-scale renewable energy under the Clean Energy Standard on April 25, 2018.

In January 2018, the federal government unveiled the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas program, which proposes to make over 90 percent of the total offshore acreage in the United States available to oil and gas drilling. This plan would open two areas of the North Atlantic coast adjacent to New York State for fossil fuel exploration. An exclusion from offshore drilling program was granted to Florida shortly after its launch on the grounds that the state relies heavily on tourism as one of the nation’s top ocean economies.

The plan for $1.4 billion

The renewable projects chosen for the competitive awards, driven by the Governor’s Clean Energy Standard mandate, are expected to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power more than 430,000 homes and create over 3,000 short- and long-term well-paying jobs.

During the competitive selection process, bonus points were awarded to renewable energy projects that demonstrated a commitment to the creation of good local jobs and the use of locally-manufactured components and content. The criteria included scoring for the developer’s experience in constructing and financing renewable projects, the developer’s previous project development experience in New York, and the projects development status related to grid interconnection, permitting and site control.

In addition to the 22 utility-scale solar farms, other projects include three wind farms and one hydroelectric project. One of the wind farms features an energy storage component, marking the first time a large-scale renewable energy project has done so in New York State. Several projects will break ground as early as April 2018 and all projects are expected to be operational by 2022, adding over 1,380 megawatts of capacity and generating over 3,200,000 MWh annually.
Those 22 solar projects include

Capital Region

  • Columbia Solar 1, Columbia County: Hecate Energy will build a 60 MW solar facility in the town of Copake.
  • Darby Solar, Washington County: Granada Solar will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Easton.
  • Flint Mine Solar, Greene County: Hudson Energy Enterprises will build a 100 MW solar facility in the town of Coxsackie.
  • Greene County Energy Properties, Greene County: Greene County Energy Properties will build a 19.9 MW solar facility in the town of Coxsackie.
  • Pattersonville, Schenectady County: Teichos Energy will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Pattersonville.

Central New York

  • Janis Solar, Cortland County: Granada Solar will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Willet.
  • Sky High Solar, Onondaga County: Cypress Creek Renewables will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Tully.

Finger Lakes

  • Java Solar Energy Center, Wyoming County: Invenergy will build a 1.53 MW solar facility in the town of Java.

Mid-Hudson

  • Blue Stone Solar, Ulster County: Geronimo Energy will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Saugerties.
  • Daybreak Solar, Ulster County: Geronimo Energy will build a 25 MW solar facility in the town of Shawangunk.
  • Little Pond Solar, Orange County: Cypress Creek Renewables will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Deerpark.
  • Magruder Solar, Ulster County: Granada Solar will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Gardiner.

Mohawk Valley

  • Double Lock Solar, Montgomery County: Cypress Creek Renewables will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Minden.
  • East Point Energy Center, Schoharie County: NextEra Energy will build a 50 MW solar facility in the town of Sharon.
  • Grissom Solar, Fulton County: Granada Solar will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Mayfield.
  • High River Energy Center, Montgomery County: NextEra Energy will build a 90 MW solar facility in the town of Amsterdam.
  • Rock District Solar, Schoharie County: Cypress Creek Renewables will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Carlisle.
  • Sunny Knoll Solar, Schoharie County: Cypress Creek Renewables will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Schoharie.
  • Tayandenega Solar, Montgomery County: Cypress Creek Renewables will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of St. Johnsville.

Southern Tier

  • Branscomb Solar, Tioga County: Granada Solar will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Candor.
  • Puckett Solar, Chenango County: Granada Solar will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Greene.
  • Regan Solar, Chenango County: Granada Solar will build a 19.99 MW solar facility in the town of Guilford.
    Western New York

— Solar Builder magazine

Details on new shared solar project for low-income customers from Con Edison

New York solar power

The New York State Public Service Commission (Commission) today approved a large-scale solar project in New York City that will generate clean energy dedicated exclusively to saving low-income customers money on their utility bills while also protecting the environment. This is one of the first “shared solar” systems for low-income residents in New York State and is an important milestone in the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy.

The system will be constructed by Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. as a pilot project that could include up to 1,600 customers throughout its service territory. Once operational, the system is expected to save each customer roughly $5 a month from the solar energy sold back to the electric grid.

“This pilot program will not only show how community distributed generation, or CDG, can benefit a low-income neighborhood, it will also contribute to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s visionary Clean Energy Standard adopted by the Commission last year,” said Commission Chair John B. Rhodes. “By serving low-income residents with clean energy, Con Edison is filling a niche that hasn’t been fully served in the state. Furthermore, we believe this project, and the insight gained from this pilot, will lead to market development of other shared solar arrays around the state that will bring the benefits of clean energy to more low-income customers.”

Shared solar systems are an important goal of REV, Gov. Cuomo’s comprehensive strategy to fight climate change and grow New York’s economy by building a cleaner, more-resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers. The Department of Public Service and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will continue their work with solar energy developers, low-income advocates, utilities and others to develop similar shared solar systems across the state. While the pilot project will initially produce 3 MW of power, Con Edison has proposed an expansion to 11 MW that could serve a total of 6,000 customers if the pilot is deemed successful. The solar panels will be placed on rooftops and property owned by Con Edison. It will help remove barriers that block low-income families in multi-family buildings from participating directly in solar energy projects.

Con Edison will select participants through a lottery process. Invitations will be sent to eligible customers who are enrolled in the company’s electric low-income affordability program, as well as the no-cost, energy-efficiency program offered by either Con Edison or NYSERDA. Support for environmental justice and energy affordability for all New Yorkers are foundational goals of REV.

Last year, the Commission approved the state’s first-ever energy affordability policy, which increases the budget for low-income discounts to $248 million, and provides an additional 550,000 low-income customers in direct cost relief each year. Notably, the new policy seeks to limit energy costs for low income New Yorkers, on average, to no more than six percent of household income — half of what many low-income households are currently paying. Supported by all Con Edison ratepayers, the shared solar pilot program would not require any upfront payments or separate on-going payments for low-income customers to participate, and participants would continue to receive all the benefits of the electric low-income affordability program.

Partnership between Clean Energy Group, Geli to focus on solar+storage for low-income communities

Con Edison believes the pilot program will also increase energy literacy and awareness, spurring additional participation in energy efficiency programs and will bring environmental benefits to communities that have borne the brunt of local air pollution. Statewide, the program will provide valuable lessons for designing future renewable energy programs. Similar benefits are expected from a REV demonstration project in Buffalo where National Grid is installing rooftop solar panels on 170 low- and moderate-income homes, as well as a few community organizations located on Buffalo’s East Side (known as the Fruit Belt).

— Solar Builder magazine

New York State develops toolkit to streamline community solar projects

community solar toolkit

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has developed a Solar PILOT Toolkit to assist the state’s municipalities in understanding and negotiating payment-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT) agreements for solar projects larger than 1 MW, including community solar projects. Based on feedback from local government officials and solar industry representatives, NYSERDA developed the toolkit in response to the need for greater information on PILOT agreements as solar projects develop throughout the state.

The Solar PILOT Toolkit provides a framework for local taxing jurisdictions to negotiate payment agreements with solar developers. In addition to their clean energy and job-creation benefits, solar developments can yield significant financial value to municipalities through PILOT agreement payments. The toolkit addresses the lack of information on property tax issues around solar development and is designed to enable municipalities to work with developers to negotiate PILOT rates that benefit the community and make the projects financially attractive to developers and their customers.

“The Solar PILOT Toolkit will serve as a vital resource to help municipalities encourage the development of community solar projects and make sure they benefit the entire community,” Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said. “Large-scale solar projects provide a great opportunity for communities across the state to take advantage of clean, renewable energy while advancing Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy.”

16 community solar projects across Massachusetts being financed by Key Equipment Finance

 

The Toolkit offers guidance to counties, towns and school districts on the structure of a PILOT agreement as an alternative solution for community solar participants and developers in municipalities that opt-out of the tax exemption. It also includes templates for a single jurisdiction or multiple jurisdictions that municipalities can tailor to meet their needs in working with developers to negotiate an agreement.

The Toolkit is comprised of three elements: a model resolution to guide municipalities in exercising their legal authority to adopt a PILOT; a sample agreement that jurisdictions may use to draft an agreement with developers; and a PILOT Calculator with two options that offer guidance on methods to collect revenue.

New York State is undertaking significant changes in the way it generates and delivers electricity. As one example, community solar projects allow electric customers who are not able to install solar panels on their properties to own or subscribe to a portion of a community solar project, and benefit from the cost savings of clean generation.

As a method to promote the installation of clean energy, Section 487 of the Real Property Tax Law exempts the added assessment value of renewable energy projects, including solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, from local property taxes for 15 years. The law allows any taxing jurisdiction to “opt-out” of the tax exemption, which would then makes the PV system fully taxable.

Here was New York’s pro-renewables response after Trump pulled out of Paris Agreement

 

— Solar Builder magazine