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

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

New York solar power

Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord caused an immediate reaction from states leading the country’s charge into renewable energy. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order to commit New York to uphold the standards set forth in the Paris Accord and announced a U.S. Climate Alliance, along with California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and Washington State Governor Jay R. Inslee, to convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change.

Cuomo also announced the Clean Climate Careers initiative — a multi-pronged strategy to grow New York’s emerging clean energy economy and prepare the workforce for the long-term careers associated with this industry.

“As the federal government abdicates its responsibility to address climate change — at the ex-\pense of our environment and economy — New York is leading the nation in advancing a clean energy future,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Clean Climate Careers initiative is a groundbreaking investment, representing the largest state clean energy procurement in U.S. history. With this $1.8 billion initiative, New York continues to tackle the challenges of climate change and create the high-quality, good-paying careers of tomorrow.”

Clean Climate Careers

In partnership with the ILR School’s Worker Institute at Cornell University and Climate Jobs NY, this initiative focuses on accelerating energy efficiency and renewable energy growth to make New York a magnet for new energy technologies and creating 40,000 new, good-paying clean energy jobs by 2020.

As part of the first phase of the Clean Climate Careers initiative, New York State will make an unprecedented investment of up to $1.5 billion in major renewable energy projects, including wind and solar, and significantly expand energy efficiency and so-ar installations at public buildings. The investment will result in an additional 2.5 mil-lion megawatt-hours of electricity a year, representing the largest clean energy pro-curement by a state in U.S. history.

The Clean Climate Careers initiative is a bold, three-pronged strategy that connects in-vestment in clean energy technologies with the industry’s good-paying, quality jobs:

1. Investing in Clean Tech and Supercharging Renewable Energy Development: Making record investments in renewable energy to meet Governor Cuomo’s ambitious Clean Energy Standard target of achieving 50 percent of electricity from renewables by 2030 – and as a result New York is poised to double the State’s so-lar capacity from roughly 800 megawatts today to more than 1600 megawatts by the end of 2018.

2. Creating Clean Climate Careers: Making historic investment of up to $1.5 bil-lion in major renewable energy projects will create thousands of well-paying jobs for middle class New Yorkers across the State, while providing funding to train our workforce for lifetime careers in building efficiency, renewable energy, and other low-carbon sectors.

3. Advancing Environmental Justice: Establishing an Environmental Justice & Just Transition Working Group to develop priority programs and policies to help historical underserved communities – and those navigating the retirement of carbon-intensive energy plants – prepare for a cleaner, greener future.

Solar industry funding report for Q1 2017: Was there a ‘Trump effect’?

Details of phase one of the Clean Climate Careers initiative

The state will issue requests for proposals from qualified developers to build renewable energy projects that will generate 2.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity a year – enough to power approximately 350,000 homes. Combined, the RFPs are the first in a series of major procurements and are expected to result in the development of 40 to 60 large scale renewable energy projects by 2022 under the Clean Energy Standard.

The complementary solicitations by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York Power Authority will invest up to $1.5 billion in wind, commercial solar and solar arrays, small and large-scale hydro, fuel cell and other technologies.

The NYSERDA solicitation will procure 1.5 million MWh of electricity from renewable energy sources and the NYPA solicitation will procure an additional 1 million MWh. This investment in additional large-scale clean energy supplies will expand NYPA’s leadership role as the State’s largest supplier of renewable electricity. Both the NYSERDA and NYPA solicitations will lead to the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs from development, construction and operation of clean energy projects through 2022.

The state is committed to studying the feasibility of the types of economic efficiencies that can be achieved through the use of a Project Labor Agreement for the construction of Public Work projects associated with this initiative. Use of a PLA for such Public Works could bring broad participation by NYS registered apprentice programs and can lead to new apprenticeship opportunities for a great many New Yorkers working in construction.

$300 Million Investment in Energy Efficiency and Solar To Expand BuildSmartNY and K-Solar Programs
Accelerating the Governor’s BuildSmartNY and K-Solar initiatives, NYPA will double annual in-vestments in energy efficiency and solar deployments from $150 million to $300 million to get more clean, renewable energy into our local governments, public facilities, and schools. This $300 million is a mix of NYPA’s low-cost financing and additional private sector capital.

NYPA has established a new partnership with a consortium of banks that, will for the first time ever through NYPA, enable municipalities to access low-cost capital from commercial banks to finance energy efficiency and solar projects. Many local governments that are interested in energy efficiency projects and may not have previously qualified for financing will benefit from a more streamlined process and be able to obtain more competitive lending rates.

With this expanded investment, NYPA will conduct 1,000 energy efficiency and solar audits for municipalities and school districts by 2020 to help support prudent investments. The initiative will be available to all local governments and municipalities, who will have the opportunity to sign up and enrollment will be open before the end of 2017.

NYPA will also install more than 125 megawatts of solar capacity on schools and other public buildings by 2020, achieving a 300 percent increase in distributed solar projects at public facilities statewide. Through K-Solar and BuildSmartNY, NYPA partners with solar and energy efficiency companies to provide ‘turn-key’ solutions to its government customers, meaning local governments can easily receive design, construction management, commissioning, and financing services for their projects all at once.

These accelerated energy efficiency initiatives will create more than 2,000 new direct and indirect jobs.

 

— Solar Builder magazine

New York provides $11 million in funds for 11 microgrid projects

UGE microgrid best practices

Here’s an already installed microgrid in NY, developed by UGE.

New York State is going to fund 11 microgrid projects for $11 million as part of the second stage of the NY Prize Community Microgrid competition, says the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Microgrids provide critical power backup for homes, businesses, hospitals and other vital facilities during extreme weather events and emergencies, while supporting development of on-site cutting edge renewable energy technologies. Additionally, microgrids support New York State’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030.

“It’s critical that communities across New York have reliable power to provide vital services when they are needed the most,” Governor Cuomo said. “These awards will help local government modernize and harden their power infrastructure, as well as join this administration’s fight against climate change, and create a cleaner, greener, Empire State for all.”

As part of the competition, each Stage 2 winner will receive $1 million through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which administers NY Prize, to conduct detailed engineering designs and business plans for a microgrid to bring local clean energy generation and backup power to their communities. In addition, winners advancing to Stage 3 of the competition will have access to financing for microgrid construction through NY Green Bank.

RELATED: Microgrids: Why are they gaining in popularity, what part does storage play? 

Since community microgrids and clean energy projects are not easily financed through traditional capital providers like banks, access to NY Green Bank financing will be especially important to the completion of these critical projects. NY Green Bank is prepared to facilitate up to $50 million in financing assistance per project to Stage 3 winners subject to its investment criteria, due diligence and financial analysis. This announcement represents a significant increase in financial support for the build-out of project designs in Stage 3 of NY Prize, in addition to the $20 million available through NY Prize. Stage 3 winners are expected to be announced by the end of 2018.

NYSERDA awarded over $8 million for Stage 1 of the competition to 83 communities across the State to conduct microgrid feasibility studies in 2015. Nearly 150 communities had applied for the initial stage of the competition. Utilities played an active role in Stage 1 of the competition by identifying “grid opportunity zones,” or geographic areas where microgrids may reduce utility system constraints, and defer expensive infrastructure investment costs. Utilities also assisted communities and other partners with submission of their applications. Funding for Stage 1 and Stage 2 totals nearly $20 million.

NY Prize applications came in from combinations of community organizations, local governments, non-profit entities, developers, for-profit companies and municipally owned utilities. The 11 projects receiving funding are in the following locations:

Capital Region: Empire State Plaza; University Heights
Central New York: City of Syracuse
Long Island: Town of Huntington; Rockville Centre; Village of Freeport
New York City: East Bronx; Clarkson Avenue; Sunnyside Yards
Southern Tier: City of Binghamton
Western New York: Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus
The Town of Huntington microgrid project partners include TRC Energy Services, National Grid, PSEG Long Island, and the New York Power Authority. NYPA will provide financing directly for projects designated and implemented by the Power Authority.

— Solar Builder magazine

New York to help fund solar projects for low-income communities

new york solar funding

Andrew Cuomo is a friend of solar.

What won’t New York do at this point to boost solar installations? Gov. Andrew Cuomo just announced $3.6 million in funding to give low- to moderate-income communities greater access to solar energy across the state. The funding will help affordable housing providers and community organizations overcome barriers they often face in advancing solar and clean energy projects.

“Clean energy is key to combatting climate change and we must ensure that the development and use of these cutting edge technologies are not only available to the wealthy,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through this effort, we are helping New Yorkers to save money and are building a cleaner and more resilient New York for all.”

Find more info on applying for the funds here.

Overcoming barriers

Multiple barriers unique to serving low to moderate income communities can delay the progress of solar projects, including financing, procurement, marketing and customer outreach, and other components necessary for successful project development. Community organizations and affordable housing providers are critical partners in developing solutions to these barriers and achieving access to solar for LMI households. However, these entities often lack the financial resources, solar market experience or staff capacity to bring a solar project from concept to operation. This funding opportunity aims to fill this gap by providing these on-the-ground allies with the resources they need to get solar projects off the ground and delivering clean power where it matters most.

RELATED: Community Solar Legal Primer: From project structure to consumer protection 

Richard Kauffman, New York State Chairman of Energy and Finance, said, “Under Governor Cuomo, New York is ensuring all communities have access to renewable energy under his Reforming the Energy Vision strategy. From enabling community solar to providing support like this for pre-development work in underserved areas, our policies and programs are using new and innovative solutions for solar project development across our state so everyone can benefit from lower energy bills and be part of New York’s clean energy future.”

The funding is made available through the Governor’s NY-Sun Initiative and is being administered in addition to the State’s $234 million commitment under the Clean Energy Fund for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for LMI households. A total of 40 percent of New York State households have incomes considered low to moderate, which means they earn less than 80 percent of the median income in their area.

The $3.6 million is offered on a competitive basis through the NY-Sun Affordable Solar Predevelopment and Technical Assistance initiative. It will focus on solar projects that offer meaningful benefits to LMI customers and affordable housing providers, and demonstrate economically viable project models. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is administering the initiative.

 

Applications will be accepted through Aug. 31, 2018, or until funds are exhausted. Individual project awards will not exceed $200,000.

— Solar Builder magazine