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Cuomo consolidates state's solar programs

Aug 23, 2014 12:09 am
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Aug. 21 that the state’s multiple solar programs will be combined into a single, statewide NY-Sun Incentive Program with a billion dollars of funds. Cuomo's press release says the new grouping will add more than 3,000 megawatts (MW) to the state’s solar capacity. “Merging these programs into the NY-Sun Incentive Program will stimulate development of solar projects across this state, and sends a clear message that New York is a leader in solar energy innovation,” Cuomo was quoted in the press release. “This approach will help the industry plan for the future, spur new development and aid in New York’s transition to a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient energy grid.”

Full press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the state’s multiple solar programs are transitioning to the single, statewide NY-Sun Incentive Program. This effort is designed to support the State’s vibrant solar economy through the $1 billion NY-Sun initiative, which will significantly expand deployment of solar across the state, add more than 3,000 megawatts (MW) to the State’s solar capacity and ultimately transform New York’s solar market into a self-sustaining industry.

“Merging these programs into the NY-Sun Incentive Program will stimulate development of solar projects across this state, and sends a clear message that New York is a leader in solar energy innovation,” Governor Cuomo said. “This approach will help the industry plan for the future, spur new development and aid in New York’s transition to a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient energy grid.”

NY-Sun is part of Governor Cuomo’s commitment to protect the environment, grow the clean energy economy and lower energy costs for all New Yorkers. The plan involves deploying public funds in a strategic manner to drive industry to scale and reduce burdens on ratepayers. The program provides financial support for solar projects and uses 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. It will eliminate incentives sooner in regions where the market conditions can support it, based on market penetration, customer demand, and payback. The program expects to add more than 3,000 MW of installed solar capacity in the State by 2023.

John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), said, "The days of start-and-stop solar incentive programs are over. The NY-Sun Incentive Program will provide much needed funding certainty and transparency to the market to stimulate continued private sector growth of the solar industry. Governor Cuomo’s commitment to solar will enable significant growth in New York’s clean energy economy."

The MW block system divides the state into three regions – Con Edison territory, Long Island and Upstate. Each region is assigned separate MW blocks and incentive levels for residential solar projects up to 25 kilowatts (kW) and small non-residential solar projects up to 200 kW. When the MW target for the first block in each sector (residential or small non-residential) within a region is reached, that block is closed and a new block for the sector is started with a new MW target and a lower incentive level. Once all of the blocks for a particular region and sector are filled, an incentive for that region and sector will no longer be offered.

NYSERDA will work closely with PSEG Long Island, which will locally administer the program on Long Island, New York Power Authority staff and the photovoltaic industry during the transition, which will be complete by August 28, 2014. The MW blocks and incentives for large commercial systems over 200 kW will be available in 2015.

Customers can access financing for solar projects through Green Jobs-Green New York.

Gil C. Quiniones, New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and CEO, said, "The NY-Sun Incentive Program is another dimension to New York State’s efforts to advance the use of clean solar power installations. Its structure of reducing incentives as specific goals are achieved makes this truly a model incentive program – and one that will benefit New Yorkers across the state, including New York Power Authority customers."

While growth of solar in the residential sector has been very successful on Long Island, small non-residential solar growth has been slower. The NY-Sun Incentive Program increases the size of non-residential systems eligible for incentives from 100 kW to 200 kW and also provides incentives for non-residential systems that are installed through Power Purchase Agreements and leases, a strategy that is expected to stimulate market investment.

David Daly, President and CEO of PSEG Long Island, said, "PSEG Long Island is committed to bringing more efficient and cleaner generation to the electric system through solar PV. With the launch of the NY-Sun Incentive Program, the State is continuing to make good on its promises to further stimulate the local solar PV market. We are excited to work alongside NYSERDA to locally run the incentive program, which will help keep Long Island’s solar PV market going strong. From solar PV to other advanced energy technologies and distributed resources, PSEG Long Island is providing its customers on Long Island and in the Rockaways with more choices, future cost savings and a more reliable and resilient electric grid."

NY-Sun is a comprehensive initiative that includes components in addition to the MW block system, such as:

NYS Unified Solar Permit and the Photovoltaic Trainers Network to work with local officials to streamline solar inspection and permitting processes and to help firefighters and other first-responders safely work on buildings where solar is installed;
Community Solar/K-Solar to provide communities and schools with the tools and expertise to bring solar energy to their communities and school facilities and to help schools act as community hubs for solar education;
Low- to Moderate-Income Photovoltaic Working Group to identify ways to make solar accessible for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers;
Consumer education so potential solar customers understand photovoltaic options;
Photovoltaic balance-of-system research and development projects supported by NYSERDA and the New York Power Authority to reduce costs of photovoltaic components other than the solar module;
New York Power Authority’s support for increased solar use has also included its Solar Market Acceleration Program, which reduces solar balance-of-system costs in New York State.

In the first two years of NY-Sun, a total of 316 MW of solar photovoltaic has been installed or is under contract, more than was installed in the entire prior decade. Approximately 116,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be avoided with the installation of the NY-Sun projects, which is the equivalent of removing 23,000 cars from the road. For more information about the NY-Sun Incentive Program, visit www.ny-sun.ny.gov.

With this initiative, New York’s role as a leader and first mover in shaping the future of energy remains firmly in place. By developing innovative market solutions, the State is delivering on Governor Cuomo’s commitment to transform the energy industry into a more resilient, clean, cost-effective and dynamic system. Working with State, citizen and industry stakeholders, New York’s energy policy is moving to a more market-based, decentralized approach. This means preserving the environment, decreasing energy costs, and creating opportunities for economic growth for current and future generations of New Yorkers. In advancing these new energy systems and solutions, New Yorkers will have improved energy affordability and efficiency without sacrificing the ability to live in a cleaner, resilient and more sustainable environment.
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