Governor Hochul Announces New York as Top Community Solar Market in the United States
More Than One Gigawatt Installed - Enough to Serve More Than 200,000 Homes Across the State
March 22, 2022
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced New York has become the top community solar market in the United States with more than one gigawatt of community solar installed and operational - enough to serve 209,000 homes across the state. New York also has the largest pipeline in the nation with enough community solar under construction to serve an additional 401,000 homes, ensuring continued access to clean affordable solar for all New Yorkers for years to come. Today's announcement accelerates progress towards meeting the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) goal to generate 70 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and the governor's goal to achieve 10 gigawatts of solar by 2030.
"Reaching this nation-leading milestone - with more than one gigawatt of community solar installed - is a testament to New York's aggressive pursuit of clean-energy alternatives that will supercharge our economy and bring us one step closer to a carbon-neutral future," Governor Hochul said. "New York is once again making clean energy history, and with many families facing the burden of rising energy costs, my administration remains committed to expanding access to solar energy, which will deliver savings and stabilize electricity bills while meeting our aggressive climate goals."
"Over one gigawatt of progress was made today, enough to power over 200,000 homes across New York State," said Lieutenant Governor Benjamin. "When we think about the future of our state, we must think about both the economic prosperity we aim for, in addition to the welfare of our children. Now, when those future generations of New Yorkers look toward today, they'll know progress was made with them in mind. I'm proud to announce today that New York is the capital of solar power in the United States."
Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin made this announcement in Schenectady County at a 7.5-megawatt community solar project that is paired with 10-megawatt hours of energy storage on the site of a former landfill. Located in the town of Glenville, the project was developed by DSD Renewables, who is also the owner and operator of the project. The site is part of a seven-project, 25-megawatt portfolio made possible through a collaboration with the Schenectady County Solar Energy Consortium that provides over $400,000 in energy savings annually to the municipalities and cities of Schenectady County and enables each of the municipalities to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. Formed by the county in 2019, the consortium includes the County of Schenectady, City of Schenectady, Town of Duanesburg, Town Glenville, Town of Niskayuna, Town of Princetown, Town of Rotterdam, Village of Delanson, and Village of Scotia.
Community solar enables access to solar for homeowners, renters, and business owners who may not have ideal conditions to directly install solar panels onsite. Through this arrangement, clean energy is still delivered by a customer's regular electric providers, and the power produced from the solar array is fed directly back into the electric grid. As the electric grid is supplied with clean, renewable energy, subscribers receive a credit on their electric bills for their portion of the solar system's output.
Community solar made up 70 percent of total solar installations across the state in 2021. In addition, New York's distributed solar pipeline is now comprised of more than 708 of these projects totaling 2,300 megawatts, which once completed will help expand access to clean energy for all New Yorkers, including low-to-moderate income (LMI) households and those living in disadvantaged communities (DACs). This pipeline is complemented by 73 New York State-supported utility-scale solar projects under development throughout the state - together, these projects will deliver enough electricity to power more than 2.2 million homes once completed. The State's success in deploying community solar is confirmed by the Solar Energy Industry Association and Wood Mackenzie Solar Market Insight 2021 Year in Review report , not only ranking New York as the all-time national leader ahead of second-place Minnesota, but also highlighting the Empire State as number one in 2021 for installations - more than double second-place state Massachusetts.
President and CEO of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Doreen M. Harris said, "New York is again setting an example for states across the country on how investing in community solar can bring clean energy into the homes of thousands of families while also moving the state closer to reaching our climate goals. With a massive pipeline still to build, we are charting a path for all New Yorkers to be able to sign up for renewable projects like these to lower their electricity costs and be part of our climate change solution."
CEO of DSD Renewables Erik Schiemann said, "We are really proud of the Schenectady portfolio and the innovation we were able to bring to it, and the fact it's in the backyard of our headquarters is a major highlight. However, it's working with partners like NYSERDA and our neighbors and stakeholders in the communities in which we live and work across New York that motivates DSD to continue to do our part in accelerating the state's Climate Act initiative."
The achievement of this milestone has been underpinned by robust support from NYSERDA's NY-Sun program, the State's signature $1.8 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar while driving costs down and making solar energy more accessible to homes, businesses, and communities. Currently, installed distributed solar projects, combined with the projects that are under development, bring the State to 95 percent of the current Climate Act goal to install six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025.
Since 2011, NY-Sun has helped:
- Support the installation of solar on the rooftop or property of 165,000 homes or businesses spanning every county in New York;
- Provide over $1.3 billion in incentives, leveraging $6.1 billion in private investment;
- Drive over 2,500 percent solar growth in the State;
- Facilitate the delivery of enough clean, renewable energy to power over 627,000 New York homes;
- Foster 12,000 jobs in the solar industry;
- Reduce the cost of solar 70 percent in 10 years; and
- Ensure over $200 million is dedicated to low- to moderate-income (LMI) households, affordable housing, and disadvantaged and environmental justice communities as part of its Solar Energy Equity Framework.
Last fall, Governor Hochul called for an increase to New York's solar goal to ten gigawatts by 2030. To accomplish this goal, NYSERDA and the Department of Public Service filed a roadmap with the Public Service Commission to expand the state's successful NY-Sun initiative into one of the largest and most inclusive solar programs of its kind in the nation, including continuing incentives for an additional 2,270 megawatts of community solar projects, enough to power an additional nearly 400,000 homes. The roadmap also included ambitious targets for projects located in the downstate region and dedicated incentives for community solar projects service DACs and LMI subscribers, consistent with the Climate Act's call for at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments be directed to disadvantaged communities. The roadmap also proposes prevailing wage requirements for solar projects greater than one megawatt within the NY-SUN program to promote the continued growth of high-quality solar jobs.
Representative Paul Tonko said, "Community solar will play a critical role in achieving our energy goals. Currently, many residents who want to transition to solar are barred because they cannot afford the cost of panels, they live in rented properties, or their rooftops simply don't support solar. Community solar is a game changer for overcoming these barriers, allowing more New Yorkers to be part of the clean energy transition. I'm proud of my work in Congress to continue to deliver key investments that cut emissions and lower energy costs for consumers, and I thank Governor Hochul, the Schenectady County Solar Energy Consortium, NYSERDA, and all whose efforts are continuing to make New York a national leader in the global push towards a clean energy future."
State Senator Kevin Parker said, "As the Chair of the Energy and Telecommunications Committee I applaud NYSERDA and NY-SUN for helping our state get to this milestone achievement. At this rate I know we can reach the governor's goal to achieve ten Gigawatts of solar by 2030."
Assemblymember Mike Cusick said, "Today we are celebrating a significant milestone in our statewide effort to transform our energy grid. One Gigawatt of installed community solar is a tremendous accomplishment and a testament to our commitment to achieving our renewable energy goals. While today is an exciting moment, it is also just the beginning. We have a long way to go and we will continue to push forward with our commitment to building the energy grid of the future here in New York State."
President of National Grid NY Rudolph Wynter said, "We are thrilled to join Lieutenant Governor Benjamin and NYSERDA here in Glenville today. National Grid is pleased to lead in Community Solar installations across the state, and we have worked with NYSERDA to develop the Solar-For-All program to ensure that low- and moderate-income National Grid customers can realize the benefits of solar interconnections. We are continuously innovating new ways to make solar connections faster, cheaper, and more customer centric. I look forward to continuing our work with the Governor, NYSERDA and our other partners to enhance the communities we serve and make our clean energy future a reality."
Senior Director of State Policy, East, for the Solar Energy Industries Association David Gahl said, "Becoming the top state for community solar is a major achievement that demonstrates the commitment of state leaders to clean energy and to ensuring the cost-saving benefits of solar are available to all New Yorkers. This type of leadership brings thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment to the state, and SEIA looks forward to continuing its collaboration with Governor Hochul, the New York Public Service Commission, and NYSERDA to expand more equitable access to clean energy in New York."
Northeast Director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access Kaitlin Kelly O'Neill said, "New York's commitment to community solar has made it a national leader, and thousands of New Yorkers have been able to access the benefits of clean energy. The Hochul Administration's commitment to expand community solar benefits will make real progress toward the climate goals set out in the CLCPA."
President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Julie Tighe said, "Congratulations to New York and the solar industry for leading on community solar! Community solar is helping combat climate change and accelerate the growth of renewable energy to meet our ambitious climate targets. If New York is going to meet those clean energy goals, we need to prioritize solar and provide families with an opportunity to use green energy and prioritize those investments in disadvantaged communities. With New York top in the nation for total community solar installs and overall installs in 2021, we are supercharging our power supply- putting us on track to go bigger with renewable solar energy."
Executive Director of New York Solar Energy Industries Association Zack Dufresne said, "NYSEIA applauds New York State for becoming the national leader in community solar last year, and the solar industry is proud to support this accomplishment. It's awesome to see New York's community solar market continue to evolve, bringing greater access to New York customers who want to participate in the clean energy transition. NYSEIA and its member companies look forward to working with state officials, utilities, and other stakeholders to ensure not only future growth of the community solar market, but also that the promises of community solar are fulfilled, including improved access for low-income customers and disadvantaged communities. With a robust slate of community solar projects in development, it is more important than ever for New York to continue to address the needs of this key market segment."
Senior Regional Director for Vote Solar Stephan Roundtree said, "Community solar is a key pillar of New York's green economy, and a critical tool for ensuring that all New Yorkers can participate in the clean energy transition. We applaud Governor Hochul, the NY-SUN team, and our industry partners for helping make New York State the national leader in community solar development on our path to 70% renewable power by 2030. Vote Solar is excited to support the state's pursuit of a ten gigawatt distributed solar goal, and to expand program benefits for those historically left out of the solar economy."
New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan
New York State's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $33 billion in 102 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.6 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting nearly 158,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2020, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.