COVID-19 Updates

NYSEIA is keeping its members up to date with relevant resources regarding the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19. New information will be posted here as soon as possible. Please note that information on this page does not constitute legal advice from NYSEIA.

Solar Construction Reopening and State Guidance (as of 5/26)

 

Governor Cuomo announced the first phase of industries that can start preparing for the reopening process, including manufacturing and construction in the energy sector, on a regional basis. Key details include:

  1. The following regions of the state have met the necessary public health metrics to reopen: Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Long Island (expected 5/27), Mid Hudson, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, Western New York. Details on regional definitions and real-time monitoring of the reopening qualifications can be viewed at the Regional Monitoring Dashboard website.
     

  2. Although no specific guidance for solar construction has been released, NYSEIA interprets that solar construction for all segments can resume immediately in the reopened regions (residential, C&I, CDG). Further details on Phase 1 construction reopening can be viewed here.
     

  3. The State has prepared both a summary and master guidance document detailing its requirements for business reopening plans. The guidance is organized around three distinct categories: (1) People—social distancing and reducing workplace density; (2) Places—protective equipment and cleaning; and (3) Processes—screening, testing, and tracking.
     

  4. Businesses engaged in construction must affirm their compliance with the New York Forward reopening guidance through completion of an online form. A construction business may also fill out a template safety plan provided by the State, or develop its own COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan. This plan does not need to be submitted to a State agency for approval, but must be conspicuously retained on the premises of the business and must be made available to the New York State Department of Health or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection.

 

Activities Allowed Statewide

 

Contractors performing program work pursuant to a NYSERDA contract or program may continue or start the following activities on a statewide basis:
 

  • Nonresidential electric power generation and storage-related development, construction, operation or maintenance;

  • Electric vehicle (EV) charging station installation, operation and maintenance at commercial and government sites; and

  • Activity by a single worker who is the sole worker on a project site.
     

All businesses are, of course, still subject to the relevant health and safety requirements set forth by the state. Please refer to the Contractor Guidance and letter from NYSERDA administrators for full details. Residential solar and storage construction work must still be authorized as part of the Phase One regional reopening.

ESDC Guidance on Designation of Solar Construction and Development

 

Empire State Development Corporation published updated guidance regarding the designation of solar and storage construction activity on March 31. Please refer to their webpage for clarification regarding essential construction and critical infrastructure.

Small Business Association Disaster Relief Loans


The Small Business Administration announced that it is extending disaster relief loans to small businesses, including nonprofits, to help alleviate economic injury caused by COVID-19. Working with state officials, SBA will be offering loans of up to $2 million through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. More information can be found here. New York has applied for eligibility for this program, and once approved, loans will be administered by the ESDC. 

Paycheck Protection

 

The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and other expenses. Small businesses are eligible if they also meet program size standards. If you wish to begin preparing your application, you can download a sample form to see the information that will be requested from you. Lenders will begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3. Under this program:

  • Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25 percent of that amount.

  • Loan payments will be deferred for six months.

  • If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.


 

NYC Small Business Employee Retention Grant Program

The City is offering small businesses with fewer than 5 employees a grant to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months to help retain employees. Please see the following Eligibility Criteria for businesses, including non-profits:

  • Be located within the five boroughs of New York City

  • Demonstrate that the COVID-19 outbreak caused at least a 25% decrease in revenue

  • Employ 1–4 employees in total across all locations

  • Have been in operation for at least 6 months

  • Have no outstanding tax liens or legal judgements

NYC Small Business Continuity Fund

 

Small businesses located in New York City that have been financially impacted by the pandemic are eligible to access the New York City Small Business Continuity Fund for interest-free loans up to $75,000 for businesses that meet the following requirements:

 

  • Located within one of the five boroughs of New York City

  • Experienced at least a 25% decrease in revenues

  • Employ less than 99 employees, and

  • Do not have any outstanding tax liens or legal judgments.

Eligible small businesses interested in applying for a Fund loan should be prepared to provide substantiation of the business’s drop in revenue from point of sale reports, bank statements, quarterly sales tax filings or CPA certified profit and loss statements, the business’s most recent tax returns (tax year 2019 if available) and demonstration that the business will be able to repay the loan. Business owners may apply online (Pre-Application for the NYC Small Business Continuity Loan Fund). Additional questions should be emailed to Covid19biz@sbs.nyc.gov.

 

Interconnection Updates

 

  • Reports from utilities indicate that interconnection application processing is continuing remotely.
     

  • See this April 14 document (subject to change) for the status of utility essential construction for Distributed Generation Interconnection work during NY-PAUSE. It specifies current practices for studies, site visits, field construction, and witness testing.
     

  • Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the New York State Public Service Commission issued an order, effective April 6, suspending the SIR requirement related to the payment of the final 75% of interconnection costs to the utility. Projects with a 75% payment deadline between March 7, 2020 and 30 calendar days following the end of the Disaster Emergency shall not be canceled by the Utilities as a result of failing to meet that deadline and all such projects shall retain their queue position.

 

Permitting

  • Please use our template letter to towns in which you have active projects to advocate for remote permit processing, remotely conducted public meetings, and post-installation permitting checks.
     

  • If you would prefer NYSEIA to reach out to the towns in question, please email us with the relevant town/AHJ contact information.

Incentive Program Changes

 

  • NYSERDA is extending all NY-Sun project completion deadlines by six (6) months for the Residential & Nonresidential and Commercial & Industrial programs. Where applicable, the CESIR milestone (proof of full interconnection payment to the utility) is also extended for six months. Additionally, any project that makes its interconnection payment and wishes to submit documentation for the CESIR milestone can still do so. No projects will be canceled during this period due to previous deadlines displayed in the NYSERDA project portal. If you need assistance with the portal or have other questions, please contact your NYSERDA project manager, or Jason Mangione: jason.mangione@nyserda.ny.gov.
     

  • NYSERDA will remain flexible with regard to MW-Block timelines. Please contact Max Joel at Max.Joel@nyserda.ny.gov for project-specific issues.
     

  • NYSERDA has introduced a temporary “two-payment option” for its Residential & Nonresidential program. This change is intended to provide additional financial flexibility to solar contractors during the current public health and economic crisis, while continuing to protect solar consumers and ratepayers under NYSERDA’s NY-Sun program. Projects that meet the criteria below, as well as the full requirements detailed in the NY-Sun Program Manual Addendum, may invoice in the NYSERDA portal for an initial incentive payment equal to 50% of the total approved incentive for a project. Specifically:

    • Residential projects in Approved status up until March 30, 2020; or in Submitted status as of March 30, 2020 that have subsequently been placed in Approved status by NYSERDA. 

    • Nonresidential projects in Approved status that, up until March 30, 2020, have delivered all approved system components to the customer’s site and has obtained all permits and approvals

Green Jobs – Green New York Loans

 

To help with the economic recovery, NYSERDA has reduced the loan rate to 0% for their Green Jobs– Green New York energy efficiency program. If installers are doing remote sales right now they should take advantage. Please contact Max Joel if you have any questions.

Ban on Unsolicited Telemarketing

  • Unsolicited telemarketing calls to New York residents are prohibited during a state of emergency. Please see this National Law Review article for specifics.
     

  • The ban excludes calls made with prior express consent and calls to for-profit businesses and calls in which a transaction is not completed.


 

Resources from SEIA

 

Our national partners at SEIA are compiling informational resources on their COVID page and ITC page.

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