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.

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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

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