On June 20th, Sustainable CUNY and NYSEIA achieved record-breaking attendance for the return of the annual Manhattan-based Summit.
The New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA) and Sustainable CUNY Co-hosted the 2023 NYC Solar + Storage Summit on June 20th. Sustainable CUNY had hosted this annual event for many years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and NYSEIA was thrilled to partner with them this year for the triumphant return of the 14th annual Manhattan-based Summit. The NYSEIA and CUNY teams gathered at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater of John Jay College, with a record-breaking 600+ attendees, making the Summit’s comeback a success. Attendees included hundreds of solar professionals from public and private sectors, CUNY students, city finance and real estate leaders, and other solar-curious members of the public.
Mohamed Attalla, Vice Chancellor of Facilities Planning, Construction and Management at City University of New York (CUNY) welcomed attendees and gave opening remarks. NYSEIA Board President, Dan Montante, also welcomed attendees on behalf of the industry and thanked CUNY for partnering with us on the event. Headline panelists Anthony Fiore, Chief Program Officer at NYSERDA and Matthew Ketschke, President of Con Edison, started the full day conference and trade show with a morning conversation about how they plan to decarbonize America’s largest city. Moderated by Tria Case, Executive Director of Sustainable CUNY, their discussion focused on NYSERDA and Con Edison’s parallel efforts to reduce building emissions, electrify buildings, prepare the city’s grid infrastructure for large-scale renewables, and how to advance local solar + storage deployment.
The morning panel, ‘City Leadership to Accelerate Solar + Storage,' explored significant barriers for the city to reach its ambitious climate and clean energy goals. Leaders from the NYC Mayor’s Office and key city agencies discussed the challenges such as NYC’s local laws, pending zoning/permitting improvements, and other initiatives to accelerate solar and storage deployment. Moderated by Noah Ginsburg, Executive Director of NYSEIA, ‘Industry Innovation to Scale Up Solar in the City,’ featured leaders from the real estate and the solar industries challenged these barriers by explaining how the Inflation Reduction Act can accelerate solar adoption in the city.
After a catered lunch, Keynote Speaker Lisa Flavia Garcia, Regional Administrator for EPA’s Region 2 office (covering New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally recognized Indian Nations), called for NYC officials to legitimize environmental justice actions by authentically engaging and considering stakeholders that are most affected by climate change, such as residents of disadvantaged communities. Garcia memorably analogized the importance of engaging stakeholder voices by stating “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.” Garcia also relayed how the EPA will play a major role in our clean energy transition, including regulating fossil fuel emissions and deploying the $27B Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, with $7B dedicated to solar.
Following Garcia’s engaging talk, the Special Guest, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, was welcomed by Sustainable CUNY staff and gave remarks about his vision for the city’s sustainable future. Mayor Adams emphasized how the smoke from the Canadian wildfires that engulfed the city displayed the effects of climate change, advocating for the city to be a leader in clean energy and sustainability. After Mayor Adam’s remarks, David Schieren, Chairman of the NYSEIA board, presented him with a “Solar Champion” Award for his ‘City of YES Zoning for Carbon Neutrality’ proposal.
'Financing Solutions’ gathered public, private, and nonprofit clean energy financiers discussed how to overcome record high interest rates and other financial roadblocks as the Inflation Reduction Act has simultaneously unleashed billions of dollars in public and private capital for the solar and storage industry. Unique barriers also exist for low-income New Yorkers to access solar, jobs, and bill savings. The ‘Expanding Access Workforce, Housing, and Community Solar’ panel featured affordable housing, community solar, and workforce development leaders who outlined how to expand access to solar for low-income New Yorkers from incentives, policies, and tax credits as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Climate Leadership and Communities Protection Act (CLCPA), and NYSERDA funding.
The final panel, ‘NYC Storage,’ discussed energy storage’s important role in the city’s clean energy transition, as it provides resilience, reduced grid congestion, and flexibility that is needed to replace in-city fossil fuel plants with renewable energy; however, challenges exist within permitting, the construction, and the operation of energy storage in NYC. Public officials and solar executives demonstrated to audiences how companies are moving past these challenges and how the city and the State are providing incentives to reform permitting and zoning.
To end the day, attendees and staff visited John Jay College’s rooftop area for Happy Hour, sponsored by Brooklyn SolarWorks, where they were served drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Sustainable CUNY and NYSEIA thank Headline Sponsors Con Edison, Greentech Renewables, NYSERDA, YSG Solar, and all of the Gigawatt, Megawatt, and Kilowatt Sponsors for their generous support. From the sponsors’ contributions and dedicated staff at Sustainable CUNY and NYSEIA, the return of the 2023 NYC Solar + Storage Summit was a resounding success, as reported by pv magazine and feedback from attendees.