New York to fund $40 million in solar + storage projects

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is making $40 million in funding available to support solar projects that integrate energy storage, accelerating progress toward New York’s energy storage target of 1,500-megawatts by 2025. These projects will build toward Governor Cuomo’s mandate that 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030 to combat climate change and build a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system.

“As we continue our aggressive pursuit of clean, renewable technologies, funding for projects like this will ensure New York remains at the forefront of the global fight against climate change,” Governor Cuomo said. “The strategic pairing of energy storage and solar technologies moves us closer to building a clean energy economy that protects critical natural resources and benefits all New Yorkers.”

These funds will be the first storage incentive funds made available since the release of the New York State Energy Storage Roadmap in June. By offering a new incentive for solar-plus-storage projects for the commercial and industrial sectors, including community solar gardens, the storage component will ensure that renewable energy is shifted to times of highest customer usage, such as afternoon hours on summer days. Solar-plus-storage helps reduce consumer energy bills and improves the value of renewable energy to the grid. In addition, paired solar and storage systems can deliver lower costs to consumers by taking advantage of expiring federal tax credits, combining the permitting and interconnection processes, and utilizing less space by co-locating on the same sites.

— Solar Builder magazine

EV Update: Seven steps for regulators, New York rebate, EVgo ramps deployment

EV chargers

Electric vehicles are coming, and grid planners, regulators, developers and solar companies should all be ready to build the complementary infrastructure. Here’s a roundup of all the recent EV segments news to keep you up to date.

AEE’s seven steps to prepare for EV surge

Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) released an issue brief outlining seven steps state regulators should take to prepare for a surge in electric vehicles. In EVs 101: A Regulatory Plan for America’s Electric Transportation Future, AEE notes that plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) currently account for a small share of vehicle sales, but a high – and accelerating – growth rate is putting EVs on the agendas of public utility commissions (PUCs) around the country. To address the potentially rapid electrification of the vehicle fleet – from passenger cars to delivery vehicles, buses, and trucks – state regulators should take measures to maximize the benefits and minimize the challenges associated with this transportation transformation.

In EVs 101, AEE urges PUCs to take seven specific steps:

1. Establish an electric vehicle regulatory framework. PUCs should use a collaborative process to gather information, then put out its viewpoint in a white paper on the key regulatory issues for EVs to reduce uncertainty in the marketplace. An open, collaborative process allows everyone to participate, ensuring that the best information is brought forward.

2. Consider roles for various stakeholders in electric vehicle charging infrastructure ownership and financing. Regulators need to clearly define appropriate roles for utilities and third-party companies to play in owning and financing charging infrastructure. Both utilities and third parties have critical roles to play and should be able to develop, own, and operate charging facilities under appropriate rules and market conditions.

3. Adjust utility planning and operations to fully integrate electric vehicles. As the EV market grows, utility planning and operations will need to incorporate EV load forecasts, make modernization investments for smart charging, adopt streamlined interconnection processes, and ensure interoperability standards are observed for public charging stations.

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4. Implement rate designs for an electric vehicle future. Regulators should consider EV-only tariffs and well-designed time-varying rates to encourage off-peak charging. In the early stages of market development, regulators should also provide relief from excessive demand charges under EV-only rates to support the use of chargers.

5. Ensure that vulnerable populations are not left behind. As the EV market unfolds, particular attention should be given to low-income and other vulnerable populations. Regulators should take steps to improve the ability of these communities to access the EV market and apply longstanding principles of consumer protection to ratemaking decisions with cost implications.

6. Educate consumers. Given the important role that consumer awareness plays in EV adoption and utilization of charging infrastructure, regulators should allow utilities to use their unique relationship with customers and experience in customer engagement from energy efficiency programs to improve access to EV information.

7. Prioritize consideration of medium- and heavy-duty fleets. Vehicle fleets have the potential to provide electrification at scale in the near term, with substantial benefits to the grid and society, and some operators are already starting to make large commitments to electrifying their fleets. Commissions should explicitly look at fleets in the context of the regulatory issues outlined in this paper.

New York launches first EV charging station installation rebate

new york EV rebates

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that $5 million is available as part of the first rebate designed specifically for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at workplaces, office buildings, multi-family apartment buildings, and public locations such as theaters, malls, parks and retail locations. The installation of charging stations for public use supports the Governor’s ambitious clean energy goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

“New York continues to lead the nation in reducing our carbon footprint by aggressively investing in clean transportation methods,” Governor Cuomo said. “By expanding public access to electric vehicle charging stations, this program will make it more affordable for New Yorkers to make the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, resulting in a cleaner, greener New York for all.”

Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the new Charge Ready NY initiative provides a $4,000 rebate per charging port for public or private employers, building owners, municipalities and non-profit organizations to install Level 2 charging stations. Depending on installation costs and the model/make of the charging station, installe rs can save up to 80 percent of a typical installation’s total cost. Level 2 stations provide up to 25 miles of electric range to cars for each hour they are charging. Charging stations must be installed at one of the following types of locations:

• Public parking lot: must have at least ten parking spaces and be open to the general public at least 12 hours per day for at least five days per week. Examples include municipal or privately-operated parking lots or garages, parking at retail locations, shopping malls, restaurants, parks, transit stations, schools and other destination locations.

• Workplace: must have at least ten parking spaces that primarily serve a minimum of 15 employees who work at or near the lot. Examples include office buildings, universities, schools, and hospitals.

• Multi-unit housing: must have at least eight parking spaces that primarily serve a building with five or more housing units, such as apartment buildings, condominiums and co-ops.

This new initiative supports the Governor’s Charge NY 2.0 initiative, which aims to have at least 10,000 charging stations across New York by the end of 2021,so clean cars can travel across the State with the opportunity to recharge along the way. The initiative also builds on the Governor’s Charge NY initiative, which was launched in 2013 and has a goal of having 30,000 to 40,000 electric cars on the road by the end of 2018.

To complement Charge Ready NY, which enables public and private organizations to apply directly for rebates, the Governor recently announced a $250 million commitment by the New York Power Authority to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and expand electric vehicle fast charging stations along key transportation corridors and in New York City airports.

EVgo FastStart Fast Forwards EVgo Charging Station Deployment

EVgo charger

EVgo, the nation’s largest public electric vehicle (EV) fast charging network, unveiled EVgo FastStart, a mobile and modular fast charging station configuration that can be deployed in a matter of days or weeks, at the Solar Power International and Energy Storage International conference.

Engineered to meet accelerating demand for EV chargers, the patent-pending EVgo FastStart station offers fast and easy deployment for partners with immediate charging needs, short-term site leases, or fleet customers requiring electric charging in temporary depots. The pre-fabricated EVgo FastStart can be deployed on a modular basis with multiple modules per site in just days or weeks, limited only by the power available. EVgo FastStart stations come in DCFC, Level 2, or combination configurations.

— Solar Builder magazine

New York utilities seek demand charges in REV mass market rate design proposals

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New York is at an important juncture in its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) development as a working group is currently assessing proposals for mass market rate design, two of which include demand charges. Considering the whole point of REV is to build toward a distributed future, this raised our eyebrows because demand charges are fundamentally at odds with that goal. So, what’s the deal here?

“This is different than the traditional rate case where a utility proposes X — this is a much more evolutionary process,” says Evan Dube, senior director of public policy at Sunrun. “But still disconcerting nonetheless because the joint utilities have shown their view of future mass market rate design revolves heavily around demand charges.”

Within the overall REV framework, there are numerous different working groups and proceedings going on. We are in Phase 1 right now, which moved much of the industry to the VDER value stack, with mass market rate design – residential and small commercial – still on net metering plan until Phase two, which starts Jan. 1, 2020. That seems far off, but in regulatory terms, the time is now.

RELATED: Our big takeaway from SEIA’s latest Grid Modernization report: Utilities need to step up

All stakeholders in the working group were encouraged to put forward proposals for review. From all of the proposals put forward, five were selected to drill down on and further analyze. These include a proposal from the solar industry and two from the JU – the two that have demand charges included.

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What are these demand charges?

Instead of electricity bills reflecting the total amount of electricity customers consume, demand charges add a fee based on a customer’s maximum electricity usage during each month, averaged over a short period of time. This is similar to going to a coffee shop for a medium coffee but being charged for a large because that’s the size you purchased the day before.

Here is some of the wording from the JU proposals right now referred to as the “2 Demand Rate” and the “TOU Demand Rate” proposals:

Both proposals recover delivery costs through demand (kW) charges and a monthly customer charge (a fixed amount each billing period), and supply costs through volumetric (kWh) charges. In both proposals, the demand charges replace volumetric delivery charges, which currently recover demand-related costs for delivery. The demand charges are calculated to recover the same level of costs as are currently recovered through the volumetric charges of the applicable rate class and are therefore designed to be revenue-neutral.

Here is the full PDF. These proposed demand charges are specifically for prospective DER customers, but the DPS and regulators in New York, in their overall mass market residential rate design, could look to adopt a structure along similar lines with what comes from this process for DER customers.

“I am not surprised that the JU took this direction,” Dube says. “We’ve seen this proposed by utilities a fair amount in the recent past – a majority of which have been rejected [up to 16 states where it’s been proposed and rejected by Sunrun’s count]. We in the renewables industry often reference back to the importance of continuity in the default rates, and the rates for which DER customers will be placed.”

What’s next?

The proposals are assessed by 1) the New York Department of Public Service (DPS), 2) the joint utilities (JU) and 3) a third-party consultant contracted by the DPS. The working group will keep meeting and go over various issues and culminate in a report from staff to the commission at the end of this year. The commission will then put forward an order at the start of 2019 to implement the next phase of rate design in 2020.

RELATED: Shadow costs: How outdated local processes stifle the true solar market

Because the utilities are also part of the group assessing proposals, two of which they submitted, the solar industry stakeholders have been stressing the need for transparency throughout the working group and going forward.
“The utilities possess a great deal of the data required to analyze these proposals, so ensuring there is adequate process and opportunity for industry stakeholders to respond and have access to the same data is important,” Dube says.

Again, just because these proposals exist (maybe as a negotiating tactic?) it doesn’t mean they are favored by the DPS staff or policy makers. Demand charges continue to be rejected in states around the country, most notably in Massachusetts last month, and New York’s execution on REV so far seems to indicate they won’t fly here either, but it is another example of utilities continuing to seek out regressive rate design.

— Solar Builder magazine

New York adds $15 million to clean energy workforce funding (here’s where it’s going)

new york solar projects

It can’t be said enough: the solar industry and the clean energy economy means jobs. For a state like New York that has big forward-thinking plans, that means prepping a workforce for this new world, which is why the state has approved $15 million in new funding for clean energy workforce development and training programs on SUNY campuses.

Nearly $6 million was awarded to SUNY campuses to train more workers in the clean energy sector. In addition, a request for proposals was made available to all SUNY campuses for grants totaling $9 million to provide apprenticeships, internships, and educational programs and support through industry partnerships across the state. These initiatives are part of Climate Jobs NY, a component of Clean Climate Careers initiative.

“As the federal government moves further away from responsible energy policy and clean energy production, New York is committed to fighting climate change and protecting our environment,” N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “We will continue to take bold action to promote clean energy across the state and support job growth in cutting-edge, renewable industries.”

RELATED: Shadow costs: How outdated local processes stifle the true solar market

As part of the $9 million RFP for additional grants, the SUNY university system will explore opportunities for partnerships with state and local agencies, including the Department of Labor, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Empire State Development, and Industrial Development Agencies. These partnerships will aim to meet existing and emerging critical workforce needs of New York’s clean energy industry, drive regional economic development, and provide hands-on learning to students.

Up to $1 million of the RFP is allocated specifically for Community College Regional Council awards to develop events and workshops that will facilitate partnerships between clean energy industry players and SUNY community colleges in the region, share best practices amongst community colleges on curricula materials and tools to accelerate the pace of clean energy workforce development, and plan regional strategies to promote a culture of environmental sustainability.

Campus proposals awarded today were reviewed by a committee with representation from SUNY, NYSERDA, and the Department of Labor.

The awarded proposals include the following:

Binghamton University will establish a Clean Energy Undergraduate Research Program within its Freshman Research Immersion program. The new clean energy program will provide a summer component, including research fellowships for under-represented minority students and internships with clean energy companies.

Buffalo State College will develop clean energy certificate programs in partnership with the New York Power Authority. The certificates will also earn students credits toward an associate or bachelor’s degree.

University at Buffalo will develop a Western New York Clean Energy Workforce Development program to include a certification and micro-credentialing, which may take the form of digital badges or other micro-awards—to both meet business and industry expectations and motivate and prepare well-rounded students with highly marketable skills.

SUNY Canton will enhance its Solar Ready Vets program on site at Fort Drum. The training provides a micro-credential program in renewable energy specifically for veterans transitioning to civilian life.

Erie Community College will enhance its non-credit continuing education units for architects and engineers, as well as building and code inspectors, by including electrical/photovoltaic solar updates for curricula design.

Farmingdale State College will develop certificate and fast track training programs within its Renewable Energy and Sustainability Center to meet emerging needs of the clean energy industry. The Renewable Energy and Sustainability Center will partner with local industry to identify short- and long-term needs.

SUNY Maritime will receive funding for two programs. The first, through its Off-Shore Energy Center, will develop a wind operations technician training program, as well as dynamic positioning training and certification courses for off-shore vessel operators. The second will develop a certification in partnership with the liquid natural gas industry. Coursework from the program will also be incorporated into licensing programs for licensed mariners.

Nassau Community College will develop new curriculum to include Energy Industry Fundamentals certificates.

SUNY Oswego will develop and enhance the campus’s energy laboratories to support the curriculum of multiple departments. The campus will also expand research and applied learning opportunities and strengthen collaboration and student transfer between SUNY Oswego and Onondaga Community College.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute will partner with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and SUNY Oneonta to offer experiential learning opportunities for students to apply green building principles by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certifying SUNY campus buildings. LEED Accredited Professionals will engage undergraduate students in the LEED Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance certification process and the LEED for Building Design and Construction via experiential learning projects tied to new courses.

— Solar Builder magazine

New York creates toolkit to guide solar development of brownfields, landfills

New York solar school

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority released a new tool kit to provide guidance and resources for communities seeking to develop solar projects on underutilized properties such as landfills and brownfields. This new Municipal Solar Procurement Toolkit supports recent revisions to the NY-Sun Megawatt Block Program which provides financial incentives for developing solar projects in those areas.

“Responsible development of solar projects on brownfields and landfills enables municipalities to transform this dead space into a renewable energy resource that helps lower consumer energy bills and provide emission free energy,” said Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA.

RELATED: New York issues RFP for 1.4-MW solar project at Javits Convention Center

The New York Solar Guidebook is a comprehensive resource created by NYSERDA to help municipalities and officials engage in informed decision making about the potential benefits, effects and impact on the community’s character that renewable energy projects may bring. It contains tools, step-by-step instructions and information about solar project permitting, inspection, property taxes, land leases and more.

Municipalities can use the new Municipal Solar Procurement Toolkit as a guide to develop solar projects on these underutilized lands instead of other productive land. It includes an overview guide on municipal procurement as well as ready-to-use templates for a land lease agreement and a request for proposal. Aditionally, NYSERDA offers free technical assistance to help municipalities implement the policies and practices for becoming solar-ready communities.

This toolkit is part of statewide effort to support renewable energy project growth and compliments a rulemaking package adopted by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in June to streamline the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process to encourage sustainable development. The updates will take effect on January 1, 2019, and will expand the number of actions not subject to further review under SEQR, known as Type II actions, modify thresholds for actions deemed more likely to require the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS), and require scoping of an EIS.

Examples of Type II actions to be added include installation of solar arrays on closed landfills, cleaned-up brownfield sites, wastewater treatment facilities, sites zoned for industrial use, or solar canopies on residential and commercial parking facilities and the installation of solar arrays on an existing structure not listed on the National or State Register of Historic Places; among others.

The NY-Sun initiative supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s mandate for 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable resources by 2030 to combat climate change.

The NY-Sun Megawatt Block program has already supported 652 megawatts of completed projects and another 979 megawatts are currently under development. In June, NYSERDA announced improvements to the Megawatt Block incentive program including higher incentives for projects on landfills and brownfields as part of NYSERDA’s soft, indirect cost reduction effort. New York has more than 1,300 MW of installed and operating solar capacity, or enough to power approximately 229,000 homes, and is rapidly adding more every day.

— Solar Builder magazine