New York offers aid to dozens of distributed solar projects

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sept. 26 announced NY-Sun awards for large solar electric projects that will increase the solar capacity in New York State by more than 214 MW, which is a 68% increase over the amount of solar installed and in the pipeline at the end of 2013.

The competitive awards further advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry.

“Today we are making another long-term investment in our clean energy economy – with nearly $100 million in funding that will dramatically increase our capacity to generate and utilize solar energy across the state,” Cuomo said. “New York is quickly becoming a national leader in renewable energy by building a competitive solar industry, and today’s award recipients are an example of how that progress continues to grow.” 

The new capacity, which is planned for 142 project sites, was obtained through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Competitive PV program, which has been working to stimulate the market for systems larger than 200 kW for four years. A total of $94m in renewable funding for these projects leverages private investment of $375m in new photovoltaic (PV) power infrastructure projects.

A total of 50 project sites are located at businesses; 41 at schools and school districts; 36 at municipal and other government facilities; and 15 at nonprofits, health care institutions and colleges.

“The results of this solicitation highlight the success of Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative in driving a significant increase in solar power in the State, and the large interest from school districts is an indicator of the success we can expect from NY-Sun’s new K-Solar program, which focuses specifically on solar projects at schools,” said John Rhodes, President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

A total of 49 developers submitted proposals, a marked increase over the previous two solicitations. The latest bids included large solar developers that have previously focused on other states, regions and countries, and that submitted bids to New York State for the first time.

Proposed average project sizes also continued to increase steeply, more than doubling from 750 kW a year ago to more than 1.8 MW with the latest solicitation. Aggregate bid prices for awarded projects declined sharply from about a year ago – from $1 per watt to 55 cents per watt in the Consolidated Edison service territory and from 68 cents per watt to 41 cents per watt in the rest of the state. This will result in 1.6 times more solar energy generated per ratepayer dollar than about a year ago.

Five awarded projects went beyond solar, integrating energy efficiency and energy storage into their bids, an option available for the first time.

Many of the sites receiving awards will use remote net metering, which allows eligible renewable energy system owners that produce more energy than they consume at one location annually to accrue credits that can be used to offset other electric accounts under their name.

“The NY-Sun awards announced by Governor Cuomo underscore the tremendous strides that are being made to greatly increase the amount of clean solar electricity capacity in New York State,” said Gil Quiniones, President and Chief Executive Officer of New York Power Authority.

The New York Power Authority continues to work closely with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to bring about further integration of solar power through initiatives to reduce solar costs. This includes a newly introduced K-Solar Program, in partnership with the New York State Education Department.

Under the NY-Sun Competitive PV Program, installers submit proposals for funding based on commitments from companies interested in having PV installed at their sites and the proposed incentive for each PV project.

Projects by region are:

New York City – There are 32 projects sites in New York City: three in the Bronx, 10 in Brooklyn, four in Manhattan, 10 in Queens and five in Staten Island – including 24 public schools across the five boroughs.

Hudson Valley – There are 23 project sites in the Hudson Valley: one in Dutchess County, four in Orange County, one in Putnam County, two in Rockland County, two in Sullivan County and 13 in Westchester County – including President Container in Middletown and Dutchess County Airport.

Capital Region – There are 18 project sites in the Capital Region: two in Albany County, five in Columbia County, two in Rensselaer County, six in Saratoga County, and one each in Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties — including the Town of Moreau Industrial Park, Town of Halfmoon, Mohawk Fine Paper in Cohoes, Environment One Corp. in Niskayuna and Emma Willard School in Troy.

Mohawk Valley – There are 20 project sites in the Mohawk Valley: one in Fulton County, six in Herkimer County, seven in Oneida County, one in Otsego County and five in Schoharie County – including three sites in the City of Utica, one site at the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and one site in the City of Amsterdam.

North Country – There are six project sites in the North Country: one in Clinton County, three in Jefferson County and two in St. Lawrence County – including ConMed Corp. in Philadelphia (Jefferson County), Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, and Plattsburgh Airport.

Southern Tier – There are eight project sites in the Southern Tier, two in Broome County and six in Tompkins County – including Volcraft of NY in Chemung, Vanguard Printing in Ithaca and the Ithaca Thompkins Regional Airport.

Central New York – There are 13 project sites in Central New York: one in Cortland County, three in Madison County, seven in Onondaga County and two in Oswego County – including the Liverpool School District (Onondaga County), Onondaga County and ConMed Corp. in Sullivan (Madison County).

Finger Lakes – There are 13 project sites in the Finger Lakes: one in Genesee County, one in Livingston County, six in Monroe County, four in Ontario County and one in Wayne County – including Hobart and William Smith College and the Avon Central School District in Avon (Livingston County).

Western New York – There were nine project sites in Western New York: two in Cattaraugus County and seven in Erie County – including the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus in Buffalo.

This is expected to be the final solicitation under the Competitive PV program. Plans are under development to incorporate projects into the recently announced statewide NY-Sun Incentive Program starting in 2015 through a proven MW block system approach that is responsive to changing market conditions, allowing the solar market in each region of the state to grow at its own pace.

Since Gov. Cuomo launched NY-Sun in 2012, a total of 316 MW of solar has been installed or is under contract, more than was installed in the entire prior decade. The NY-Sun initiative brings together and expands existing programs administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Long Island Power Authority, PSEG Long Island, and the New York Power Authority, to ensure a coordinated, well-funded solar energy expansion plan and a transition to a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry.

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.