New York authority advances money to LIPA for solar program

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) said Sept. 16 that it will provide the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) with $5m to restart its popular residential Solar Pioneer program.

This money would be in support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative. The funding, which will be available beginning Sept. 23, is being provided by NYSERDA using Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction proceeds.

“I am pleased that with this funding the State will be able to continue assisting Long Islanders in making solar power an affordable energy option, and will send a signal to the thriving solar industry across the State that we will take steps to reduce the likelihood of market disruptions,” said Richard Kauffman, Chairman of NYSERDA. “Under Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative, the State is committed to investing in this renewable energy resource to not only transform the solar market but to create green jobs and stimulate economic activity throughout New York.”

To advance the NY-Sun initiative, NYSERDA also recently petitioned the New York State Public Service Commission seeking approval to work with New York State Department of Public Service and LIPA staff to identify the merits and potential for greater efficiencies and success with a more coordinated statewide photovoltaic (PV) incentive program. Currently, NYSERDA and LIPA each offer separate solar incentive programs.

“Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative is a collaborative effort among public and private entities who are all working toward the common goal of achieving greater acceptance and use of solar power in New York State,” stated Janet Joseph, Vice President, Technology and Strategic Planning, NYSERDA. “The Solar Pioneer program is just one example of the investment being made by the State in diversifying its renewable energy portfolio which will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases and less strain on the grid.”

Given declining solar costs, more solar contractors in the region and the strong continued demand for solar systems, LIPA has readjusted the Solar Pioneer program’s rebate structure several times over the past year, including as recently as Aug. 1, to handle the increase in customer demand. However, LIPA suspended the program on Labor Day weekend due to continued high market demand and budget constraints.

LIPA Chief Operating Officer John McMahon said: “These funds will enable LIPA to re-open its residential solar rebate program making solar more affordable to our customers while sustaining a growing clean energy economy on Long Island and helping to further advance our goals under the Governor’s NY-Sun initiative.”

Since 2000, LIPA has provided financial incentives for the installation of more than 6,600 solar systems on Long Island through its customer-sited residential and commercial solar system programs. These systems now produce enough energy to power nearly 11,000 homes.  LIPA expanded its solar programs last year by establishing the state’s first feed-in tariff for mid-to-large solar installations, and by allowing residential solar leasing. 

Under NY-Sun, the solar industry in New York has experienced tremendous growth. A total of 299 MW of PV has been installed or is under development as part of NY-Sun through the combined efforts of NYSERDA, the New York Power Authority and LIPA. More PV systems are being developed since NY-Sun was launched in 2012 than in the entire prior decade combined. 

NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

LIPA, a non-profit municipal electric provider, owns the retail electric transmission and distribution system on Long Island, providing electric service to more than 1.1 million customers in Nassau and Suffolk counties and the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.