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Hochul announces new framework to achieve at least 10 gigawatts of distributed solar by 2030


Mon, Dec 20th 2021 11:20 am

Enough to annually power nearly 700,000 additional New York homes

√ Proposes ‘roadmap’ to expand state's NY-Sun initiative & increase access to solar for New Yorkers

√ Expected to spur approximately $4.4 billion in private investments, create 6,000 additional solar jobs – With first prevailing wage for projects above 1 MW – with a goal to deliver 40% of benefits for statutorily defined disadvantaged communities and low- to moderate- income

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced a framework for the state to achieve at least 10 gigawatts of distributed solar by 2030, enough to annually power nearly 700,000 homes. The plan, submitted by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) to the Public Service Commission for public comment and approval, proposes a comprehensive strategy to expand the state's NY-Sun initiative into one of the largest and most inclusive solar programs of its kind in the nation, helping to increase access to solar for more New Yorkers.

In addition to spurring approximately $4.4 billion in private investment and creating 6,000 additional solar jobs across the state – including with the state's first application of prevailing wage for solar projects between one and five megawatts – the program expansion will also deliver at least 35% of the benefits with a goal of 40% from the investments to statutorily defined disadvantaged communities and low-to moderate- income New Yorkers.

This announcement supports the state's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act mandate to generate 70% of the state's electricity from renewables by 2030 as part of a resilient and equitable transition to a clean energy economy.

 "In New York, we recognize the time to act on climate change is now — we simply cannot wait as we have seen the impacts of this crisis devastate our communities, our businesses, and our economy," Hochul said. "Strengthening our commitment to solar energy will help build healthier, more resilient communities while catalyzing quality, good-paying new jobs in this thriving sector of our clean energy economy."

A press release noted, “NYSERDA and DPS carefully evaluated multiple strategies to deploy 10 gigawatts or more of distributed solar – projects that are under five megawatts in size, including rooftop installations and community solar projects— by 2030 and determined that extending the state's successful NY-Sun initiative provides the most efficient, familiar, and cost-effective path forward. Achieving the state's expanded solar goal is expected to generate enough clean electricity per year to power nearly 700,000 additional New York homes, including those in disadvantaged communities.”

The “roadmap” proposes:

√ Enough new clean, renewable energy to annually power 700,000 additional homes;

√ At least 1,600 megawatts, enough to power 280,000 homes, of new solar capacity to benefit disadvantaged communities and low-to-moderate income New Yorkers, with an estimated $600 million in investments serving these communities;

√ At least 450 megawatts, enough to power nearly 79,000 homes, be built in the Con Edison electric service area (covering New York City and parts of Westchester), increasing the installed solar capacity in this area to over one gigawatt, enough to power nearly 175,000 homes, by the end of decade;

√ At least 560 megawatts, enough to power 98,000 homes, to be advanced through the Long Island Power Authority; and

√ A new requirement that workers associated with the construction of NY-Sun supported projects that are greater than one megawatt be paid the applicable prevailing wage, demonstrating the state's commitment to ensuring projects create quality, family-sustaining jobs for New Yorkers and planning for a just transition. Projects that have submitted their initial utility interconnection application prior to the filing of this roadmap are proposed to be exempt from the new prevailing wage requirement.

Expanding the state's solar goal is expected to have an average bill impact for New York customers of less than 1%, or approximately $0.71 per month for the average residence.

The roadmap is available for public comment on the Department of Public Service's website, as well as subsequent decision-making in 2022.

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "Gov. Hochul has made clear that increasing access to solar energy is a central part of New York's all-inclusive strategy for decarbonizing the power grid and reducing harmful emissions to improve air quality and public health. This comprehensive roadmap provides the market with the critical framework it needs to continue to thrive in New York and will help us build on the progress we've achieved under NY-Sun to further pave the way toward the realization of our climate and clean energy goals."

DPS CEO Rory M. Christian said, "I would like to thank Gov. Hochul for her ardent support, encouraging the development of and access to solar energy in New York state. The roadmap that has been developed provides New York with the tools it needs to accelerate the transition to a clean-energy economy and meet our critically important climate goals."

A press release stated, “ Since the NY-Sun initiative was launched, NYSERDA has worked closely with local governments, agricultural communities, other state agencies, and a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that projects are developed and sited in a manner that fully considers land use and are advanced in close collaboration with local stakeholders and agricultural communities. NYSERDA will extend its ongoing technical assistance for all municipalities in the state to assist localities in aligning solar development with local priorities. In addition, projects sited in New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets' designated agricultural districts must follow guidelines for agricultural mitigation for solar energy projects and will be subject to an additional review process with the NYSDAM, as well as with local agricultural boards. Those projects that exceed 30 acres of impact to prime agricultural soils will be subject to mitigation fees.

“(This) announcement builds on the state's success under NY-Sun whereby installed distributed solar projects, combined with the projects that are under development, bring the state to 95% of the current Climate Act goal to install six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025. In 2020, New York was ranked first in the nation in new community solar installations and second for total distributed solar installations.”

Since 2011, NY-Sun, New York state's $1.8 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable solar industry, has:

√ Fostered 12,000 jobs in the solar industry;

√ Supported 114,000 completed projects with nearly 6,000 in active development in the NY-Sun pipeline – together, enough to power more than 2.2 million homes;

√ Installed solar on the rooftop or property of 145,000 homes spanning every county in New York;

√ Provided over $1 billion in incentives, leveraging $5.6 billion in private investment;

√ Driven over 2,100 percent solar growth in the state;

√ Delivered enough clean, renewable energy to power over 522,000 New York homes;

√ Helped to drive down the cost of solar 69% in 10 years; and

√ Allocated $135 million for projects benefiting low-to-moderate income households and disadvantaged communities.

New York State Sen. Kevin Parker said, "As the chair of the Energy and Telecommunications committee, I applaud NY Sun for implementing initiatives that have made our state a leader in the development of distributed solar. As we continue to advance toward the goals established through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, we must prepare for the next steps, which will help us surpass these goals and create good jobs with a livable wage and benefits in the clean energy industry. I am pleased to see NYSERDA and the Department of Public Service take this important step forward toward reaching 10 gigawatts of distributed solar here in New York state."

Assembly member Steve Englebright said, "We all have a stake in reducing the negate consequences of climate change. In 2019, I sponsored the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requiring the PSC to establish a program in the clean energy standard to ensure that 70% of the state's electricity is generated from renewable sources by 2030, and 100% from emissions-free sources by 2040. The actions taken today are a step in the right direction."

Anne Reynolds, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, said, "New York continues to be steadfast in its efforts to continue to grow the solar industry in the Empire State. In September, we welcomed Gov.'s Hochul's announcement of a bold, new goal of 10 gigawatts for distributed solar, and now we look forward to digging into this blueprint for how it will be achieved. Our member companies look forward to continuing to invest in – and create new jobs in – New York."

Jeff Vockrodt, executive director of Climate Jobs NY, said, "This is an exciting step toward meeting New York's emissions-reductions goals, ensuring that our state's clean-energy transition creates good union jobs and careers, and promoting investments in disadvantaged communities. The prevailing wage requirement for projects above 1 megawatt is crucial for building a high-road solar industry, and we look forward to continuing to advance labor standards in the solar industry and across the clean-energy sector, so we can build an energy transition that works for everyone."

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International Vice President Michael Welsh said, "New York, already a leader in the effort of climate protection and good, clean jobs, is yet again moving the ball forward and setting standards with today's framework by NYSERDA and the Department of Public Service to increase the goal by 2030 to 10 gigawatts of installed distributed solar. This bold step will require all stakeholders to join together to make this effort a reality but, in doing so, will create many and good jobs with the required prevailing wage on projects above one megawatt. These thousands of good-paying jobs will provide upward mobility to NY residents from all 10 regions of the state, and the IBEW looks forward to playing a key role in these good jobs being great careers in the electrical industry. We support the NYSERDA and DPS framework and applaud them for their leadership."

Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70% renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality.

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