New York City-area firms receive $30 million for solar projects

Fifteen companies—including solar installers, developers, and real estate owners—have been awarded a total of USD30 million in 2012 as the first installment of the state’s investment in promoting clean photovoltaic solar energy and reducing demand on the electric grid in the New York City metropolitan area, including Westchester County and the lower Hudson Valley.

Together, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the state Public Service Commission (PSC) are sponsoring projects that will enable facilities—for example, department stores, discount stores, apartment complexes, and postal service distribution centers—to generate electricity for their own use.

Both are publicly funded organizations: NYSERDA is dedicated to helping the state to meet its energy goals by reducing energy consumption, promoting the use of renewable energy sources, and protecting the environment. The PSC is a regulatory agency with responsibility for oversight of the utility and telecommunications industries in New York.

The USD30 million represents the first year of five years of planned funding under the USD150 million, Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Customer-Sited Tier Regional Program. The RPS—created by the state Public Service Commission in 2004 to reduce dependence on fossil fuels—is administered by NYSERDA using a surcharge collected from ratepayers served by investor-owned utility companies. The funds help pay for more than a thousand clean-energy projects every year, ranging from large-scale wind farms to photovoltaic panels on private homes.

The projects under the new solar initiative were selected through a competitive process. The NYSERDA incentive pays up to 50 percent of the cost of a project, up to USD3 million.

"The enthusiastic response to our solicitation confirms the important contribution that solar technology can play in addressing the energy, environmental, and reliability needs of the metropolitan New York City area," said Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA. "The success of this program is another example of New York’s leadership in supporting investment in a wide range of renewable energy technologies."

Garry Brown, chairman of the state Public Service Commission, said: "We are very excited about promoting the growth of solar energy in New York City and the surrounding region. Developing renewable energy resources is a primary goal of the commission. Programs that encourage renewable energy development will help [to] ensure a cleaner environment and will enable us to take command of our energy future."

In mid-2011, NYSERDA launched the USD150 million RPS Customer-Sited Tier Regional Program, encouraging large businesse— especially manufacturing facilities; colleges and universities; schools; and other large buildings— to take advantage of renewable energy incentives exclusively for New York City and the lower Hudson Valley. In addition to large-scale photovoltaic projects, the funding is for biogas power initiatives.

NYSERDA will award up to USD30 million each year, of which USD25 million is targeted for New York City or Westchester County and USD5 million is for the Hudson Valley region. The goal is to promote more clean-energy production in a part of the state that traditionally has been a large consumer of fossil fuels.

The projects are meant to produce power for on-site use, not for direct sale to utilities. Under certain circumstances, however, unused power can be added to the grid in exchange for future utility credit.

Specifically, the money was awarded to: Alteris Renewables, Inc. (based in Bristol, Rhode Island), altPOWER (New York City), Bright Power, Inc. (New York City), ConEdison Solutions, Inc. (White Plains, New York), Earthkind Energy, Inc. (Rhinebeck, New York), Martifer Solar USA (Los Angeles), OnForce Solar, Inc. (Fort Lee, New Jersey), Ross Solar Group, LLC (Brookfield, Connecticut), SolarCIty (San Mateo, California), Solar Energy Systems, LLC (New York City), Solartech Renewables (Kingston, New York), SunEdison (Beltsville, Maryland), Solar, Inc. (Oakdale, New York), SunRay Power (New York City), and MS Harrison LLC (Purchase, New York).