On November 9th, NYSEIA achieved record-breaking attendance for their annual New York Solar Summit and renewed purpose and vision for the State's clean energy future.
The New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA) hosted their annual New York Solar Summit on November 9th, presented by New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). With over 800 solar energy professionals, the record attendance makes the Solar Summit the State’s largest solar conference thanks to over 30 event sponsors, including Headline sponsor, Arcadia, Gold sponsors Greentech Renewables and New Leaf Energy; 40 exhibitors, the Albany Capital Center, American Concert and Entertainment Services, Mazzone Hospitality, and the NYSEIA Board of Directors and Staff.
NYSEIA welcomed solar energy professionals on the eve of the Summit at the Albany Stadium Restaurant and Bar for a “Solar Power Happy Hour” sponsored by Brooklyn Solar Canopy Co. The venue displayed rotating slides that showcased event sponsors and highlighted NYSEIA’s 38 new members. Guests were greeted by NYSEIA staff with drink tickets to order the night’s signature cocktail, “Sunshine on my Panels” or another drink of their choice.
Attendees gathered for the full day conference and trade show at the Albany Capital Center the next morning. Registration was streamlined thanks to NYSEIA Business Manager, Suzanne Erb’s expert event planning skills. Lanyards, sponsored by EmPower Solar, were distributed at registration so participants could adorn their name badges with ease. Throughout the day’s engaging panels, attendees sipped on coffee on behalf of specialty sponsor, Montante Solar. In their seats, attendees could also admire sustainable tabletop potted plants and flowers thanks to Kendall Sustainable Infrastructure.
Attendees were treated to a diverse array of panels and speakers, each tackling different aspects of New York's solar landscape. NYSEIA Board President Daniel Montante welcomed the audience, making remarks about the critical importance of distributed solar + storage before introducing Doreen Harris, CEO and President of NYSERDA, for a morning keynote address. Following her remarks, Jigar Shah, Director of Loan’s Programs Office at the U.S. Department of Energy was awarded a Solar Champions Award on behalf of the NYSEIA board before discussing virtual power plants. The first panel, “Market Outlook with America's Solar CEOs,” gathered CEOs from national solar companies engaged in a fireside chat, revealing how they're driving solar innovation to meet New York's ambitious clean energy goals. The discussion, moderated by David Sandbank of NYSERDA, featured industry leaders Kiran Bhatraju, CEO of Arcadia; Dan Berwick, CEO of New Leaf Energy; Zaid Ashai, CEO of Nexamp; and Ben Healey, CEO of PosiGen.
After a networking break, Tom Falcone, CEO of Long Island Power Authority, provided insights into the clean energy transition on Long Island, offering a glimpse into the region's sustainable future. Falcone then joined other panelists for the next panel titled, “Rooftop Solar + Storage: Noise at the Grid Edge or a Sleeping Giant?” moderated by NYSEIA Chairman, David Schieren from EmPower Solar. This panel explored the 2022 record-setting year for residential solar capacity reservation and deployment in New York. Experts discussed the role of small-scale distributed solar + storage in decarbonization efforts, contemplating the potential for virtual power plants and their impact on grid upgrades. Simultaneously, the concurrent programming kicked off with legal experts from Hodgson Russ LLP, the Summit’s tote bag sponsor. Amy D'Ambrogio, Esq. and Dan Spitzer, Esq. dissected the intricacies of Real Property Tax Law §575-b and PILOTs, providing insights into the current landscape and its implications for the solar industry.
NYSEIA Board member, Artie Perri of Greentech Renewables, presented valuable tools for scaling solar businesses in a dynamic market after the legal panel. Upstairs, Jonathan Cohen of NYSEIA moderated the “C&I Siting Challenges and Strategies” panel that covered into the impact of siting challenges, such as restrictive local laws, on clean energy deployment in New York. The panelists outlined how innovative solar companies are proactively addressing siting challenges, considering brownfield conversion and agrivoltaics for community co-benefits. Meanwhile, Lindsay Griffin of Vote Solar moderated, “Residential Solar: Challenges and Opportunities,” which delved into the shifting currents beneath New York's residential solar market. Leaders engaged in a lively discussion about the challenges and opportunities amid record-setting growth, including rising interest rates, new federal tax incentives, electric rate design reform, and the pending Energy Storage Roadmap.
During lunch, NYSEIA Board of Directors welcomed newly elected board members Ty Baccile of New Energy Equity, Sam Jasinski of New Leaf Energy, and Kevin Schulte of Greenspark Solar, and congratulated returning electees Stephen Roundtree of Vote Solar and Reid Garton of NY State Solar. After lunch, a session sponsored by New York State Laborers' PAC explored workforce development amid a tight labor market. “Emerging Trends in the Solar Workforce” featured speakers from the New York Department of Labor, Solar One, and leading solar companies shared insights into new prevailing wage requirements and market growth. During this panel, the NYS Department of Labor announced new prevailing wage enforcement guidance for solar PV and energy storage. Workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion practices were simultaneously explored during an intimate classroom workshop presented by Jason Benitez, Vice President of DEI at the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce. The intersection of agriculture and solar was also examined in a panel moderated by Valessa Souter-Kline of SEIA, titled “Innovation at the Nexus of Agriculture and Solar.” Experts explored challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned in deploying solar projects that contribute to farmland retention.
Following these three concurrent discussions, “Navigating New York's Interconnection Evolution,” moderated by Bill Acker of NY-BEST, addressed challenges in finding hosting capacity for solar and energy storage projects. Experts discussed solutions, including interconnection reform, grid planning processes, and incentive structures to support New York's goal of a 70% renewable grid by 2030. NYSEIA Board President, Dan Montante of Montante Solar, led a co-occurring panel of experts who shared insights into the potential of the C&I market segment. Focusing on New York's untapped commercial and industrial sector, “Onsite C&I Solar + Storage: Challenges and Opportunities” featured discussions on the challenges and opportunities of bringing onsite solar + storage systems to the industrial business community.
Dr. Richard Perez, Senior Research Faculty at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at SUNY University at Albany, presented on his foundational research regarding PV siting and flexible interconnection. Moderated by Kate Daniel of CCSA, the Summit’s final panel “Community Solar Models to Expand Access,” highlighted New York's innovative and nation-leading community solar program. The discussion explored new utility crediting mechanisms, incentives, and models to deliver bill savings to renters and low-income New Yorkers.
Before the conference came to a close, Jessica Waldorf, Chief of Staff at NYS Department of Public Service, provided a comprehensive update on solar and storage policies. NYS Senator Pete Harckham also gave an address on policies he supports as part of the state’s commitment to a sustainable future. Closing remarks were provided by NYSEIA’s founder, Ron Leonard, in which he presented Dr. Perez with a Solar Champions Award on behalf of the NYSEIA Board, recognizing his 20 years of expertise and long standing leadership of solar in New York. Attendees were then garnered to a Networking Reception sponsored by Carson Power on the trade show floor, where they could reflect on the multitude of topics discussed throughout the day.
The 2023 New York Solar + Storage Summit left an indelible mark on the participants, showcasing the collective determination to overcome challenges and embrace opportunities in New York's solar industry. The conference not only highlighted the impressive growth of the industry, but also set the stage for ongoing discussions about the unique value that distributed solar and energy storage provide to communities, and innovations that will undoubtedly shape the future of solar energy in the state. NYSEIA leadership hopes that attendees carry a shared renewed sense of purpose and vision for a solar-powered New York.