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NYSEIA asks Gov. Hochul to double distributed solar goal

Nyseia Asks Gov Hochul To Double Distributed Solar Goal

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A community solar project by OYA Renewables in New York.

The New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA) released “20 Gigawatts by 2035: Raising New York’s Distributed Solar Goal (The Roadmap),” a detailed policy report that calls on New York state lawmakers, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, to raise the state’s distributed solar goal to 20 GW by 2035. Under New York’s current climate and energy transition plan, the state aims to install 10 gigawatts by 2030.

The Roadmap outlines a plan of action to double down on one of the bright spots in New York’s renewable energy transition: distributed solar. Consisting of rooftop installations on homes and businesses and small-scale ground-mounted projects in local communities, distributed solar represents more than 90% of the state’s current solar capacity. New York added more than 800 MW of distributed solar capacity last year alone, and is on track to surpass 6 GW by the end of 2024, one year ahead of schedule.

“As New York struggles to meet its ambitious renewable energy mandates, legislative leaders and regulators must take decisive action,” said Noah Ginsburg, executive director of NYSEIA. “Scaling up distributed solar deployment will deliver cost-effective progress toward New York’s overall climate goals while delivering immense benefits to New York’s environment, economy and working families.”

CLCPA setbacks

In 2019, New York enacted the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), widely considered one of the most ambitious statewide renewable energy mandates, directing New York to be powered with 70% renewable energy by 2030, 100% renewable energy by 2040, and a carbon neutral economy by 2050.

Since then, a wave of high-profile utility-scale renewable project cancellations has jeopardized the feasibility of achieving 70% renewable energy by 2030. In 2023, Governor Hochul enacted a 10-point action plan to get utility-scale renewable projects back on track. These utility-scale projects are important, but they are not enough to meet New York’s mandates; New York must more than double its renewable energy generation by 2030 to comply with CLCPA, and rapid rooftop and community solar deployment can fill the gap.

Ambitious yet attainable solar growth

As The Roadmap outlines, solar deployment in New York has been growing at a rapid rate over the last decade, averaging 31% annual growth from 2013-2022. This rapid growth was driven by New York’s nation-leading community solar program. New York faces new challenges deploying rooftop and community solar, but in order to reach 20 GW of distributed solar by 2035, the state will need to sustain just 7 to 10% annual growth in deployment. This growth can be enabled with smart state-level policies and fueled by federal incentives that are available for the next decade due to the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Distributed solar has performed so well in New York because it fits the nature of our state,” said Senator Pete Harckham, Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee. “We have a unique mix of urban, suburban and rural communities that can support a diverse portfolio of renewable energy projects, and it’s time we lean into our character as a state. Distributed solar is essential for a sustainable future for the millions of consumers and businesses that want to be a part of the climate solution.”

Meaningful benefits for New Yorkers

Deploying 20 gigawatts of distributed solar by 2035 will provide New Yorkers with: $50 billion in gross electric bill savings; $3 to 4 billion in revenue for rural landowners, municipalities and school districts; and support an additional 15,000 good jobs in the solar industry. In low-income communities, where New Yorkers face disproportionately high energy burdens and levels of pollution, these benefits are especially powerful. Distributed solar is an effective way to deliver benefits to New Yorkers who need them most, and to meet the CLCPA requirement that 40% of clean energy benefits accrue to disadvantaged communities.

High-impact policy interventions are needed

New York will not achieve 20X35 with a “business as usual” approach. The Roadmap lays out policy reforms needed to realize the potential of distributed solar, including:

  • Interconnection reform and flexible interconnection to lower clean energy costs and accelerate deployment
  • Streamlined permitting for rooftop and community solar
  • Virtual Power Plant programs and dynamic rate design to compensate distributed solar and energy storage for exporting power when and where it’s needed
  • Continued investment in New York’s nation-leading community solar programs to provide even more direct bill savings to low-income New Yorkers

For more information on NYSEIA’s plan to double distributed solar deployment in New York, and the benefits it will provide to the state, view the full roadmap here.

News item from the New York Solar Energy Industries Association

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