This week, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced plans to help local governments and state agencies build 40 distributed solar systems that will bring renewable energy to surrounding communities.
The projects will help meet the New York Power Authority (NYPA) 2025 community solar target that sets a goal of 75 megawatts (MW) of renewable capacity, including 15 MW of paired battery storage. These projects aim to stimulate more than $135 million in direct, private investments toward their development, construction and operation.
Under this new program, NYPA will work with municipal and state government entities to assist in community solar development while also aiming to support clean energy generation in low-income communities. NYPA Community Solar and Storage Program staff assist throughout the full project development process including scoping, design, purchasing to execution, project management and close-out.
Community solar offers households, schools and businesses the opportunity to benefit from a solar project in their area often without any upfront costs or participation fees. These projects increase access to those who may not have the ability or ideal conditions to install solar panels at their buildings. Solar energy is fed into the grid and local subscribers get credit on their electric bills.
“New York has the strongest community solar market in the nation, and we are continuing to prioritize the development of renewable sources that will transform the energy industry, protect the environment and lower energy costs for New York families and businesses,” Governor Cuomo said. “Partnering with local governments and state agencies for community projects will further solar and storage deployment, while creating new jobs all across the state.”
Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA President and CEO said, “New York State is already one of the nation’s foremost markets for developing community solar distributed generation. By setting a stretch target to address the need for more solar and storage systematically, NYPA will help governments overcome potential hurdles in onboarding solar projects and more effectively serve as ‘anchor subscribers’ which can then help engage the surrounding community.”
Anchor subscribers help energy to be affordable for all
Distributed solar projects can be a challenge for local governments due to long development timelines and uncertain future revenues. However, as a result of recent New York State’s Public Service Commission rules, large customers can now serve as “anchor subscribers” for distributed solar projects. This helps reduce costs by allowing projects to reach economies of scale, provide assurance to developers and financiers, and benefit residents and small businesses by making access to solar credits easier.
NYPA is currently working on two projects at Quarryville in Ulster County and at John F. Kennedy International Airport to supply a total of 11 MW to surrounding communities. The City of White Plains in the Mid-Hudson region is also developing a program to produce community solar. NYPA also is coordinating a solicitation to allow Westchester County municipalities to participate in a combined energy portfolio.