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Comments on Hydroelectric Eligibility for VDER Environmental Value Compensation

August 29, 2022

The Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Environmental Advocates for New York, New Yorkers for Clean Power, Sierra Club, Northern Power and Light, New York Solar Energy Industries Association, New York League of Conservation Voters, and Natural Resources Defense Council (Clean Energy Parties) are submitting these Comments in response to the Petition of Interested Hydroelectric Parties Eligibility for Environmental Value Compensation for Pre-2015 Resources Under the Value of Distributed Energy Resources Tariff (Petition) filed on May 26, 2022 in the above-referenced proceeding.

The Petition proposes to expand the eligibility for Environmental Value (E-Value) compensation under the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) tariff to legacy distributed energy resources, that is those that are eligible for VDER compensation, meet the definition of “renewable energy systems” in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), and were in operation prior to January 1, 2015. The petitioners propose that the E-Value is an alternative environmental value compensation and thus, projects compensated under Net Energy Metering (NEM), Competitive Tier 2, or the Maintenance Tier would be ineligible to be compensated through the VDER tariff.

These Clean Energy Parties support the Petition. The Petition would rectify an omission in the VDER program and provide our State with benefits far outweighing the costs. Support of legacy distributed hydro will ensure that existing generation is not retired and that their Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) remain in-State. It is imperative that New York maintains its baseline of legacy NEM energy facilities to meet our aggressive Climate Law goals.

The Order on Net Metering Transition, Phase One of Value of Distributed Energy Resources, and Related Matters1 that created the VDER program did not include pre-2015 resources in those eligible for the E-Value. This shortfall of the program should be rectified given the significant environmental and climate benefits offered by legacy hydro generation. Hydro resources provide the State with continued renewable generation to meet our Climate Law goals and in-state RECs, economic benefit of maintained civil infrastructure, and local distributed generation. VDER was established prior to the CLCPA’s more aggressive renewable and emission free electricity goals, and the State should modify existing programs to ensure we can meet them.

New York State enacted the CLCPA in 2019, and it requires a significant acceleration of our renewable energy deployment with its ambitious goals of 70% renewable electricity by 2030. This will be a dramatic increase from the current percentage of 27% in 2021. The State is actively laying the groundwork to meet the 70% goal, but we are also going to need to maintain our existing baseline of renewable generation as we move forward.

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