NYSERDA and National Grid Announce Round One Results of Community Solar Program Offering for Underserved New Yorkers
Expanded Solar For All Program to Serve Nearly 175,000 Income-Eligible National Grid Customers
October 17, 2022
The New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in partnership with National Grid today announced 21 community solar projects, totaling more than 120 megawatts, have been selected as part of the first round of a community solar program that delivers the benefits of clean energy to underserved New Yorkers. The Expanded Solar For All program, approved by the State’s Public Service Commission in January, will serve nearly 175,000 income-eligible customers in National Grid’s upstate service areas once fully implemented. Today’s announcement supports New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) mandate for at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments be directed to Disadvantaged Communities.
Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “NYSERDA is proud to partner with National Grid through this Expanded Solar For All program to give underserved New Yorkers an opportunity to save on their monthly electricity bill and contribute to a cleaner and healthier New York. All across the state, community solar projects like these are harnessing the power of the sun in order to provide renewable energy to nearby homeowners and renters who may not be able to otherwise access solar.”
Rudy Wynter, National Grid’s New York President said, “Fighting climate change and transitioning to clean energy is not simple and can’t be solved by a single solution. Further, we must ensure the energy transition is a just transition that leaves no communities behind. The Expanded Solar For All program is an important first step in our journey and one that will provide access to customers most in need. Solar projects are an important component of our Clean Energy Vision , which seeks to eliminate fossil fuels from our electric system while providing reliable, resilient, affordable energy in alignment with New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.”
An additional round of projects is expected to be selected next year. As part of the program’s first phase, National Grid anticipates providing up to $240 million in total bill credits during the 25-year lifetime of the program. An anticipated second phase, subject to approval by the Public Service Commission, would further expand the program doubling the total anticipated bill credits to up to $480 million over the program’s lifetime. The federal Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Biden in August, is also expected to further support New York’s strategy to drive cost savings from solar energy to disadvantaged communities.
Community solar involves a large array of solar panels at an offsite location that allows homeowners and renters to access solar power without installing panels on their homes. Energy is still delivered through their regular electric provider while the power produced from the community solar array is fed directly back to the electric grid and customers receive credits on their electricity bill.
Today’s announcement builds on the success of NYSERDA's NY-Sun program, the State's signature $1.8 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar while driving down costs and making solar energy more accessible to homes, businesses, and communities. In March, New York became 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. Currently, installed distributed solar projects combined with projects under development, bring the State beyond 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 175,000 homes or businesses spanning every county in New York;
- Provide over $1.4 billion in incentives, leveraging $6.9 billion in private investment;
- Drive nearly 2,900 percent solar growth in the State;
- Facilitate the delivery of enough clean, renewable energy to power nearly 715,000 New York homes;
- Foster 12,000 jobs in the solar industry;
- Reduce the cost of solar by 70 percent; and
- Ensure at least 1,600 megawatts of solar 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.
Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE) Program Director Jessica Azulay said, “We appreciate the work that has gone into developing this pilot program, the first of its kind, to automatically bring the benefits of solar energy to 175,000 low-income people in National Grid’s service area. New York’s renewable energy resources have the potential to reduce the energy bills of those struggling the most to make ends meet, and we hope NYSERDA will continue to build and grow this program.”
Vote Solar Northeast Regulatory Director Lindsay Griffin said, “As New York embraces and expands clean energy projects, it’s critical that access and bill savings prioritize New Yorkers with high energy burdens. We are excited to see the Expanded Solar for All program take off, and look forward to continued engagement with NYSERDA and the program’s stakeholders on extending solar benefits to all New Yorkers.”
The Public Utility Law Project's Executive Director and Counsel Laurie Wheelock said, “PULP applauds the expansion of initiatives that bring the benefits of clean, green, renewable energy to underserved New Yorkers while reducing their energy burdens at the same time. The growth of programs like NY-Sun will be key to ensure that disadvantaged communities generally and low-income households specifically are not left behind as we transition to a more sustainable energy system.”
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 $35 billion in 120 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.