New York plans 10 GW distributed solar program expansion, but some see even more potential
December 23, 2021
* New York would aim to install at least 10 GW of distributed solar by 2030 under a proposed plan for expanding the NY-Sun initiative announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday.
* The roadmap would establish a prevailing wage for projects of more than 1 MW, according to a news release from the governor’s office. It also calls for the deployment of 1,600 MW to benefit disadvantaged and low-to-moderate income communities, and for the installation of 450 MW of new solar in the New York City and Westchester County areas.
* Clean energy and labor advocates praised the proposal’s goals as a step in the right direction, but some believe the state’s solar developers have the capacity to build more than 10 GW before 2030.
With enough projects in development to bring the popular NY-Sun distributed solar program 95% of the way to its current goal to install 6 GW of new solar, Hochul has initiated proceedings to expand the program and establish a new 10 GW goal. But the state’s solar industry sees no reason to stop there.
Since 2011, the $1.8 billion NY-Sun program has supported the completion of 114,000 distributed solar projects, with 6,000 in active development, according to the governor’s announcement. The governor estimated that the solar program has helped to cut the cost of solar by 69% and grown the state’s solar industry 2,100%, creating 12,000 jobs.
The proposed solar roadmap, which the New York Public Service Commission opened to public comment on Wednesday, aims to spur another $4.4 billion in private investment and create 6,000 jobs. According to last week’s announcement, the expanded program would generate enough energy to power 700,000 homes at a projected costs of $0.71 per month for the average residence.
Labor and environmental advocates praised the roadmap for its ambition and commitments to job creation and equity.
Solar industry advocates expressed similar enthusiasm for the roadmap’s proposed expansion, and called for a swift approval of the plan to spur further investment in distributed solar. However, Zack Dufresne, executive director of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association, said he believed the state could go further, potentially deploying as much as 12 GW of solar by 2030 with additional focus on grid modernization and rate design. He pointed to a November report by Vote Solar and Local Solar for All, which concluded that a more rapid deployment of distributed solar and battery technology would save the state billions of dollars, and to a separate roadmap in the works by the Long Island Power Authority, which calls for the creation of optional time-of-day electrical rates to spur solar deployment.
“We look forward to continuing these conversations, not only to achieve the Governor’s 10 GW goal, but to secure our state as a national leader in distributed energy solutions with no bounds on the potential benefits of distributed solar in meeting overall decarbonization and climate justice goals,” Dufresne said in an email.