On December 17, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) released its whitepaper: “New York’s 10GW Distributed Solar Roadmap”. The whitepaper represents the policy framework developed by the administration of New York Governor Kathy Hochul for raising the state’s distributed PV generation capacity to at least 10GW by 2030. NYSERDA said that implementing the roadmap will generate billions of dollars in investments and create thousands of jobs. Following its release, the roadmap is advancing to the public comment stage, and the proposals that are contained within the whitepaper will be codified sometime next year. This story was first reported by various renewable energy news websites.
In the whitepaper, NYSERDA stated that the earlier 6GW goal set under the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is almost coming to fruition. Hence, the state has to be more ambitious and raise the target to 10GW by expanding the existing NY-Sun MW Block Program and introducing additional incentives. The US$1.8 billion program has been in place since 2011 and supported the completion of 114,000 distributed PV projects in the state. The proponents of the roadmap are touting that with the expansion, NY-Sun will be the largest and most inclusive solar program in the US.
To have more New Yorkers using electricity powered by solar PV, the state government will allocate 40% of the funding under NY-Sun to support the adoption of PV generation in disadvantaged communities and among households with low-to-moderate income.
The proposals in the whitepaper are expected to bring about US$4.4 billion of private capital into the development of local PV projects. Furthermore, they will help create an additional 6,000 new jobs in the local PV sector.
The new initiatives and mandates related to the expansion of NY-Sun include the following: (1) A minimum of 1.6GW will be added to meet the electricity demand of disadvantage communities and households with low-to-moderate income. (2) A minimum of 450MW will be added in the Con Edison electric service area that encompasses New York City and parts of Westchester. (3) A minimum of 560MW will be added through the Long Island Power Authority. (4) Workers associated with the construction of PV projects supported by the program will be paid the applicable prevailing wage.
It is worth noting that the installed capacity of the Con Edison electric service area will surpass 1GW by the end of the decade with the addition of 450MW. Also, the mandate on the prevailing wage covers only projects that are greater than 1MW and does not apply to projects that have filed for interconnection before the publication of the roadmap. This mandate is similar to the requirement that the administration of the US President Joseph Biden wants to add in the part of the Build Back Better agenda involving the extension of investment tax credits. Additionally, the program will inject US$600 million in investments into disadvantaged communities.
New York Aims for Zero CO2 Emissions by 2040
NYSERDA said that a government-administered program is preferable to an auctioned-based procurement scheme for advancing the development of distributed PV projects on account of the need to speed up related procurement activities. The agency also asserted that an index-based pricing mechanism may cause problems for project developers that are unfamiliar with it.
The conclusion of the whitepaper was that the expansion of NY-Sun with its upfront incentive payments is the best option for reaching the 2030 target of 10GW due to its administrative flexibility, successful track record, and transparency.
NYSERDA estimates that the expansion of NY-Sun will cost residents (or end users) of New York an additional US$0.71 every month.
New York State Senator Kevin Parker, who is also the chair of the State Senate’s Energy and Telecommunication Committee, said efforts must be made to exceed the existing renewable energy target and create more jobs in the clean energy industry. Todd Kaminsky, who is another member of the state senate, added that the roadmap offers ways to realize the state’s ambition with respect to the deployment of PV systems while promoting private investments and helping disadvantaged communities. Likewise, the release of the roadmap was welcomed by trade associations in the PV sector and environment groups.