NY PSC Lays Groundwork for Community Solar, More Must Be Done to Extend Availability to All New Yorkers
Mar 11, 2017
ALBANY, N.Y., March 9, 2017 — The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) today approved a highly anticipated order in the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) proceeding, creating a new framework for New York’s community solar market. While today’s order relaunches a market that had stalled under regulatory uncertainty, industry experts agreed that additional steps must be taken quickly to ensure this nascent industry can achieve meaningful progress toward the goal of universal access to solar for all New Yorkers throughout the state.
Today’s PSC order creates the initial regulatory certainty needed to kick-start New York’s community solar market. The order determines the compensation mechanism for community solar projects that are under development or will be proposed over the next two years. This will allow a limited number of community solar projects to move forward in certain utility service territories. Over the long term, the order offers next steps that have the potential to empower all New Yorkers to participate in and directly benefit from local, clean energy in the form of community solar. CCSA continues to emphasize the need to work toward successful community solar implementation across the state so that all New Yorkers can participate in and benefit from solar even if they don’t own a sunny roof.
“We commend the Public Service Commission and its staff for their hard work,” said Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) Executive Director Jeff Cramer. “This order is an important step forward that will result in new projects in the ground, but much work remains to ensure that community solar can achieve its full potential to make affordable local clean energy available to customers all over the state, to help realize Governor Cuomo’s clean energy goals, and to help replace power from the Indian Point nuclear plant. Governor Cuomo highlighted in his State of the State that there are 325 megawatts of community solar advancing in the pipeline – we look forward to working with the Administration to make sure those projects, and more, are built.”
“We look forward to working with the Cuomo administration to build on this important first step and advance the regulatory certainty and business-friendly environment necessary for community solar companies to invest at scale in New York state,” said Hannah Masterjohn, CCSA Board Chair and VP of Policy & Regulatory Affairs at Clean Energy Collective. “We see from our experience nationwide the benefits community solar projects bring to towns, families, and businesses, and we look forward giving more New Yorkers the opportunity to directly participate in local clean energy development.”
“Every day we hear the same strong message from residents and businesses alike: they want to be powered by affordable, renewable energy,” said Julia Zuckerman, CCSA Board Vice Chair and Manager, Policy and Market Strategy, NRG. “Community solar gives them that opportunity – a simple, cost-effective path for residents and businesses to go solar without having to put panels on their roofs. Today’s order is an important first step forward, but more steps must be taken to make sure the vision of universal access to renewables is fully realized for all New Yorkers. We appreciate the PSC’s efforts on this order and look forward to discussing additional measures with them and other stakeholders so we can make this powerful vision a reality.”
Today’s order begins an implementation process in which CCSA will participate to ensure that as many community solar projects as possible can be made viable as soon as possible. That will require reducing the cost and time involved in connecting projects to the grid, improving permitting and property tax treatment for community solar projects, and leveraging the NY Green Bank and NY-Sun incentive program to facilitate project financing and make community solar available to more customers statewide. CCSA will also engage in Commission proceedings beginning in May to develop a Phase Two Tariff that more fully captures the numerous benefits community solar provides to New York and provides longer-term regulatory certainty for the community solar industry to invest in the Empire State.
“Community solar is business innovation at its best and has potential to exponentially expand New York’s clean energy economy,” said Jennifer Spinosi, Head of Regulatory and Compliance at CleanChoice Energy. “But like all new industries, it must be properly nurtured. We hope to continue working with the PSC to address concerns with the Order and jumpstart New Yorkers’ access to renewable energy.”
About the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA)
Founded in February 2016, CCSA is a business-led trade organization that works to expand access to clean, local, affordable energy nationwide through community solar. Community solar refers to local solar facilities shared by individual community members, who receive credits on their electricity bills for their portion of the power produced. Community solar projects provide American homeowners, renters and businesses access to the benefits of solar energy generation unconstrained by the physical attributes of their home or business, like roof space, shading, or whether or not they own their residence or building. These programs can also expand access to solar energy to low-income households. For more information on CCSA, visit the website at www.communitysolaraccess.org, like the Coalition on Facebook and follow the Coalition on Twitter at @solaraccess.