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New York…Sunny Side Up

image credit: Photo 148039986 © Delstudio - Dreamstime

This item is part of the Special Issue - 09/2019 - Distributed Energy Resources, click here for more

Today, in New York State, distributed solar is flourishing as documented in the 2019 First Quarter Wood Mackenzie report which ranked New York second in the nation for non-residential solar installations and first in the nation for community solar installations. New York has also become a hot bed for the community solar industry with enough completed projects to date to power over 15,000 households and enough community solar projects in the pipeline to power an additional 170,000 households, allowing New Yorkers of all economic levels across the state to benefit from the clean energy economy.

How has New York enabled this market to thrive while other states struggle to gain ground or go through a boom and bust market? In a word, certainty. Certainty in the form of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation in the country. The CLCPA mandates that New York obtain 70 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and one of the cornerstones of this mandate is doubling the amount of distributed solar to 6,000 megawatts by 2025 – enough energy to power over one million homes.

With such an aggressive deployment goal comes a responsibility and more importantly an opportunity to ensure distributed energy resources are smartly deployed to help modernize our grid infrastructure and transition to a smarter way of valuating resources like solar – a formula paramount to reaching our nation-leading goals. To that end, in 2017, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) adopted a new compensation mechanism called the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER), or the Value Stack, to compensate projects that benefit the grid and environment and inject electricity when and where New Yorker’s need it the most.  As a way of improving upon outdated net metering, this new compensation method is helping to make New York’s electricity more efficient, clean, and reliable.

Building on its foundation, the New York State Public Service Commission this past April approved enhancements to VDER providing more value stack certainty and setting the table for over 1,000 new megawatts of community solar. With these improvements, New York is leading the way with a fundamentally different path to build our solar industry into one of scale and sustainability.

Thanks to initiatives like NY-Sun, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar, New York has set the stage for certainty and it has paid off with solar well on its way to becoming a self-sustaining market.  Since 2011, solar in New York has increased nearly 1,700 percent with enough completed solar projects to power over 228,000 homes while at the same time leveraging more than $3.8 billion in private investment and supporting nearly 12,000 solar jobs.

Today, New York has the most aggressive renewable targets in the nation, a bankable compensation mechanism through VDER that provides significant grid and environmental benefits, the fastest growing community solar market in the nation, and the long-term and certain NY-Sun initiative, it’s no wonder the forecast is so sunny in New York.

David Sandbank's picture

Thank David for the Post!

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 27, 2019 5:52 am GMT

"Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar, New York has set the stage for certainty and it has paid off with solar well on its way to becoming a self-sustaining market.  Since 2011, solar in New York has increased nearly 1,700 percent with enough completed solar projects to power over 228,000 homes while at the same time leveraging more than $3.8 billion in private investment and supporting nearly 12,000 solar jobs."

David, please excuse me if I can't share in your sunny optimism for "Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar" after the shutdown of Indian Point Energy Center was linked to bribes of Cuomo aides by fossil fuel gas interests in 2016.

The brown line crawling along the bottom of the chart below shows solar providing a whopping 1.4% of New York's electricity in 2018:

The yellow line represents nuclear; the green line is fossil fuel methane ("natural gas"). When Indian Point Energy Center is closed in 2021, nuclear will be replaced by natural gas, adding ~7 million tonnes of CO2 to New York's emissions profile, moving the green line 32% higher, and the yellow line 50% lower. And the pathetic solar contribution? It's worth a tip of the hat from Cuomo and Competitive Power Ventures to naïve New York liberals, for allowing them to destroy the environment of our descendants for profit.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 27, 2019 12:04 pm GMT

It's refreshing to see policies having the intended consequence, and New York definitely is one of the national leaders in solar thanks to them. ONe of the benefits of being the leaders in successful implementation is that you can then provide the roadmap to others who want to follow the same path-- with that in mind, do you see any other states already looking to New York to copycat some of these successful policies? Are there any aspects of the New York success that aren't as easy to replicate because they require something unique about the Empire State (e.g., geography, market setup, demographics, etc.)?

David Sandbank's picture
David Sandbank on Aug 27, 2019 9:29 pm GMT

Matt
Every state has its Idiosyncrasies however the concept of focusing on valueing DER is in short supply across the country. Beacsue we have REV in place it gets state agenicies to think along the lines of improving capcity utltization rates and the role od DER to offset future spending. I have my head down in NY and would welcome other perspectives on states valuing DER outside of a blunt mechanism like NEM.

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