Community solar projects up to 5 megawatts (MWs) in size can now participate in New York’s community solar program, a move that could make community solar projects less expensive for consumers to invest in. The expansion of the program by the state’s Public Service Commission was hailed by solar advocates and others.
“Expanding the size threshold will allow solar developers to reduce soft costs by allowing them to take advantage of the economies of scale afforded by including a larger number of panels within one project, and avoiding the need to arbitrarily divide development sites into multiple discrete projects. Put simply, larger community solar projects will now be eligible for a financial credit, allowing communities to build and finance projects more effectively and efficiently,” explained the Natural Resources Defense Council Schneider Sustainable Energy Fellow Sneha Ayyagari NRDC Clean Energy Attorney Miles Farmer.
Previously the state would only allow community solar projects up to 2 MWs in size. “Our decision to expand the size of the projects eligible for compensation will further reduce costs and spur the development of solar power, energy storage and other localized forms of electric generation,” said Commission Chair John Rhodes.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) called the cap increase a significant increase. “The new policy from the New York Public Service Commission will enable many more New Yorkers to access solar energy, and especially those who cannot access it today, such as low-income residents, renters, municipalities and small businesses,” said SEIA Vice President of State Affairs Sean Gallagher in a blog about the expansion. “By raising the cap on community solar, the policy will help lower the costs for such projects.”
The commission explained that allowing the larger projects to be part of New York’s Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) compensation system will benefit from economies of scale that can help lower the costs of such projects. Buy purchasing larger amounts of equipment for projects and allowing for larger projects, less overall permitting could be needed, reducing the soft costs per megawatt of community soar projects. The VDER was created to move the state beyond net-metering and is more accurate at determining the value of distributed energy sources, according to the commission.
“Expanding access to cost-effective, clean energy is a primary goal of New York’s Clean Energy Standard, which will create enough renewable energy to meet half of the state’s electricity needs by 2030,” Rhodes said.Tweet