New York to add $1 billion to state solar program


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled ambitious solar energy plans as part of his State of the State address last week, including $1 billion in additional funding for the state’s NY-Sun Initiative.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has filed a petition with the state’s Public Service Commission requesting $1 billion to ensure long-term program certainty for the NY-Sun Initiative and expand New York’s solar market.

Specifically, NYSERDA is requesting $864 million to continue the annual funding level of $108 million from 2016 through 2023 for the state’s PV incentives.

With a total of $1.08 billion for PV programs, including funds previously authorized for 2014-2015 plus the newly requested $864 million), NYSERDA expects to achieve an estimated 3 GW of installed PV capacity in the state.

The state is also looking to reduce soft costs of solar development by helping local governments adopt model zoning and permitting procedures and providing innovative financing options.

NY-Sun’s next phase will include establishment of Community Solar NY, a comprehensive community solar package that will seek to address these issues and make solar energy available to all New Yorkers who want it.

The initiative will include K-Solar, a program that will provide incentives, financing and technical assistance to schools interested in reducing energy costs and creating healthier environments for students through on-site solar installations.

In addition, NYSERDA and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) will use schools and other institutions as demonstration hubs for developing community-based aggregation models to solarize entire neighborhoods with increased purchasing power and lower installation costs.

NYPA, for example, could facilitate a solar project at a school, with NYSERDA providing a financial reward to the school for every surrounding home that installs solar as well, thus incentivizing the school to rally the community around the benefits of clean energy.

New York, which ranked 10th among the states with the most installed solar PV in the U.S., received a federal grant in November of $2.4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge in recognition of its efforts.

Among the state’s other major accomplishments were the launched its $1 billion Green Bank, which is working with the private sector facilitate financing in the clean energy sector, the expansion of the NY-Sun program and setting a new goal of 2,500 new electric vehicle charging stations by 2018.

The state estimates that developed capacity in 2013 will be four times greater than 2011.