New York state advances program to promote solar energy production on brownfields

On August 22, 2018, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced the Municipal Solar Procurement Toolkit. It’s the latest chapter of the New York Solar Guidebook.

The Toolkit provides guidance and resources for communities seeking to develop solar projects on underutilized properties such as landfills and brownfields and supports recent revisions to the NY-Sun Megawatt Block Program which provides financial incentives for developing solar projects in those areas. The NY-Sun initiative supports New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s mandate for 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable resources by 2030 to combat climate change.

Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “Responsible development of solar projects on brownfields and landfills enables municipalities to transform this dead space into a renewable energy resource that helps lower consumer energy bills and provide emission free energy. The Municipal Solar Procurement Toolkit makes it easier to increase statewide solar capacity while stewarding the environment for generations to come – priorities of Governor Cuomo’s clean energy agenda.

The New York Solar Guidebook is a comprehensive resource created by NYSERDA to help municipalities and officials engage in informed decision making about the potential benefits, effects, and impact on the community’s character that renewable energy projects may bring. It contains tools, step-by-step instructions, and information about solar project permitting, inspection, property taxes, land leases and more.

Municipalities can use the new Municipal Solar Procurement Toolkit as a guide to develop solar projects on these underutilized lands instead of other productive land. It includes an overview guide on municipal procurement as well as ready-to-use templates for a land lease agreement and a request for proposal. Aditionally, NYSERDA offers free technical assistance to help municipalities implement the policies and practices for becoming solar-ready communities.

This toolkit is part of statewide effort to support renewable energy project growth and compliments a rulemaking package adopted by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in June to streamline the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process to encourage sustainable development. The updates will take effect on January 1, 2019, and will expand the number of actions not subject to further review under SEQR, known as Type II actions, modify thresholds for actions deemed more likely to require the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS), and require scoping of an EIS.

Examples of Type II actions to be added include installation of solar arrays on closed landfills, cleaned-up brownfield sites, wastewater treatment facilities, sites zoned for industrial use, or solar canopies on residential and commercial parking facilities and the installation of solar arrays on an existing structure not listed on the National or State Register of Historic Places; among others.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading renewable energy goals are building a cleaner, more resilient, and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers. The state’s strategic investments are advancing state-of-the-art innovations in solar technology that is both spurring economic development and expanding the state’s capacity to harness the power of the sun. NYSERDA’s new solar tool kit will further advance our efforts to achieve the state’s ambitious Clean Energy Standard to generate half of New York’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

The NY-Sun Megawatt Block program has already supported 652 megawatts of completed projects and another 979 megawatts are currently under development. In June, NYSERDA announced improvements to the Megawatt Block incentive program including higher incentives for projects on landfills and brownfields as part of NYSERDA’s soft, indirect cost reduction effort. New York has more than 1,300 MW of installed and operating solar capacity, or enough to power approximately 229,000 homes, and is rapidly adding more every day.

Growing activity in community distributed generation (CDG) is in part due to the evolving Value of Distributed Energy Resources policies and Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative, which are driving greater investments in the CDG sector.

NY-Sun is Governor Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the State closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. Since 2011, solar in New York State has increased more than 1,000 percent and leveraged nearly $2.8 billion in private investments. There are more than 12,000 people engaged in solar jobs across New York.

NYSERDA is a public benefit corporation that offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975.

Photo via Adobe Stock.

See NYSERDA website.

Download New York Solar Guidebook (PDF).

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