New York backs 79 solar projects with $54 million

New York has approved $54 million for 79 new large-scale solar energy projects across the state. The new projects will add 64 MW to New York’s solar capacity.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo awarded the $54 million in funding as part of his NY-Sun Competitive PV Program, which leveraged $120 million in private investment, resulting in roughly $174 million in infrastructure projects.

As a result of the NY-Sun initiative, the state is deploying more photovoltaic systems now than in the prior decade. 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.

"With these major investments through the NY-Sun initiative, New York State is leading the nation in solar energy generation, addressing climate change and growing our clean energy economy," Cuomo said in the July 9 announcement.

"Not only will these projects benefit our environment by reducing dependence on fossil fuels and using renewable energy, but they are also creating well-paying jobs for New Yorkers," Cuomo added. "These are necessary investments for a bright future in our state."

The state awarded 20 recipients and will finance projects at 79 large-scale solar energy sites in 26 counties across the state. The installations will be located at businesses, factories, municipal buildings, colleges and other larger commercial and industrial companies and institutions, with some of the projects expected to be online by year’s end although most are scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2014.

Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the NY-Sun program provides incentives for PV systems larger than 50 kW. The initiative caps funding per project at $3 million and requires all projects to have co-funding to leverage state resources.

"Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative has led to unprecedented demand for solar power among large electric consumers," said NYSERDA President and CEO Francis J. Murray Jr. "The investments we are making in solar power will help businesses around the state control and reduce their utility expenses, while increasing the amount of electricity the state gets from renewable energy and reducing demand on the electric grid."

Due to the steady decline in solar costs in the past two years, NYSERDA has reduced incentive amounts, allowing for more projects to be awarded. In the past two years, the portfolio-weighted average incentive has dropped from $1.30 per watt to $0.93 per watt, then to $0.88 per watt. The latest awards represent a portfolio-weighted average incentive of $0.84 per watt, or about 31% of the cost to build the projects.

The latest awards were made under the second of three rounds of the NY-Sun Competitive PV solicitation, which is a key component of New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard program. Proposals for the third round are due Aug. 29.

The solar developers and host sites that received the awards include: Absolutely Energized Solar Electric; Community Energy Solar; Distributed Sun; Empire City Casino/Yonkers Raceway; EnterSolar; Hanwha Solar Energy America; HelioSage; Jordan Energy; Manheim Remarketing; National Grid Energy Management; Nautilus Solar Energy; OnForce Solar; Safari Energy; Smart Energy Capital; SoCore Solar New York Project 2; Solar Liberty Energy Systems; SolarCity; SunConnect; SunEdison Commercial Solutions; and Sustainable Energy Developments.

NYSERDA also administers a smaller-scale solar PV program under the NY-Sun initiative that offers $4.8 million per month through 2013. This standard offer, non-competitive open enrollment program provides funding for systems up to 7 kW for residential sites and up to 50 kW for non-residential sites.