NYSEIA: Regulatory Barriers Impeding New York Community Solar Market
April 20, 2021
As of December 2020, 371 community solar projects were operational in the state, comprising 497 MW of capacity. Nearly 90% of that capacity was installed in 2019 and 2020, reflecting the successful launch and scaling up of the industry. Roughly 63% of all solar capacity installed in New York in 2020 was part of the community solar program, and at the national level the state was the largest state community solar market in terms of 2020 installations and second with regard to cumulative deployments.
Yet despite these benefits and successes, the NYSEIA research report underscores the barriers to future growth in this important market segment. Interconnection hosting capacity constraints, costs to upgrade the electric distribution system, utility interconnection delays, customer awareness and incentive pullbacks each pose significant challenges to community solar’s ability to bring the benefits of renewable energy to more New Yorkers. Community opposition to ground-mounted solar and inconsistent local property tax regimes further cloud the industry’s growth.
One of the largest barriers to community solar—which is particularly relevant for downstate and low-income customers—is the regulatory restriction that community solar projects must be located in the same utility territory as the subscriber. This has led to an extreme disparity in geographical access to community solar projects: Only 1% of Con Edison’s 3.4 million customers would be served by operational and planned projects – compared to 33% in National Grid and 17% in NYSEG-RGE.