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Frequently Asked Questions


Build Ready Basics

What is Build-Ready?

NYSERDA’s Build-Ready program is working to advance the development of renewable energy resources and accelerating progress toward New York’s nation-leading clean energy and climate goals.

Build-Ready helps communities design and develop renewable energy projects on underutilized sites and associated benefits packages customized to each community’s needs and priorities, including consideration of environmental justice impacts.

How does Build-Ready Work?

Build-Ready accepts nominations and actively seeks out potential sites across New York State. Sites under consideration are evaluated by the Build-Ready Team and if a site is determined to be viable, Build-Ready starts the development process. Development includes permitting, design, interconnection and developing a community benefits package. Once these steps are completed, the site is auctioned through an open and competitive process to private renewable energy developers who then provide for the construction and operation of the site.

Who can nominate a Build-Ready site?

Elected officials, local community members, private companies, or other interested parties can nominate a potential Build-Ready site through the nomination form Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.. Once a site has been submitted, a Build-Ready Program team member will reach out to the nominator.

How does NYSERDA fund this work?

The New York State Public Service Commission provided the initial funding. NYSERDA submitted a petition that described the intentions, plans, and the activities NYSERDA intended to undertake with the Build-Ready Program. The petition included a request for long term funding (5 years or more). Part of the Build-Ready petition included an auction process for fully developed sites. Through the auction process, Build-Ready will charge a developer fee on each project that gets sold. These funds will then be reinvested back into the program to cover past and future costs.

For Local Governments

What types of sites does Build-Ready prioritize across the State?

The Build-Ready Program prioritizes previously developed sites, existing or abandoned commercial sites including, but not limited to, brownfields, landfills, former commercial or industrial sites, dormant electric generating sites, and parking lots. Build-Ready does not look at farmland or sites where there is existing interest from private developers.

How does NYSERDA identify potential project sites?

The Build-Ready Program identifies potential project sites for consideration and screening through a top-down desktop analysis or by nomination by external parties including, but not limited to, local governments, state agencies, local industrial development authorities, landowners, discussions with grid planning program teams, or Regional Economic Development Councils. Our nomination page can be found here Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

How long does it take to develop a project?

The Build-Ready Program aims to deliver an annual pipeline of renewable energy projects to market. In general, a large-scale renewable energy project takes five to seven years from origination to operation. Of these five to seven years, Build-Ready’s involvement would typically be the initial one to three years of development activities.

What is the role of Build-Ready in developing the site and how is a site developed?

Once a site has been identified that meets the Build-Ready siting criteria, the Build-Ready Program and NYSERDA's team of consultants works closely with the landowner and the various regulatory and permitting authorities to develop a renewable energy project on the site. The Build-Ready process is divided into three stages: origination, development, and auction.

Who is the lead agency for permitting these sites?

For projects and sites that get through the screening process, Build-Ready completes the permitting activities for authorization to construct a renewable energy facility. Generally, for projects above 25 MW, this is done through the Office of Renewable Energy Siting. For smaller projects, permitting is completed with the applicable local authority under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). The type of technology and the size of the project depends upon the site’s characteristics.

What is a REC and how do they work?

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) provide compensation to developers for building projects that produce renewable energy. The Build-Ready Program uses NYSERDA’s authority to procure and manage 20-year REC contracts. These contracts are a competitive financial mechanism that makes projects financially viable. Build-Ready includes an inflation adjuster and an interconnection cost adjuster to allow for increases in the REC strike price should it be necessary to ensure financial viability of the project.

For Landowners

What type of land does NYSERDA consider for the Build-Ready Program?

Build-Ready gives priority to former industrial or commercial sites, closed landfills, brownfield sites, dormant electric generating sites, underutilized abandoned and vacancies, parking lots or other previously developed or disturbed sites. If you would like to have your property evaluated, our nomination page can be found here Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

What are the benefits to the landowner?

The Build-Ready Program gives landowners a reliable, hassle-free revenue stream from their land. The Team takes care of everything, making it simple and easy for landowners to participate—landowners just need to consent to developing on their property and work with the Build-Ready Team and provide information needed to move the project forward.

What are the benefits the landowner can provide to the community?

Participation in the Build-Ready Program can improve and protect the value of land. Landowners who participate in the Build-Ready Program can show their communities that they are committed to being a steward for local clean energy and economic growth.

What happens at the end of the lease?

A decommissioning clause will be included in contracts with the lessee. In general, leases require decommissioning of the Solar Facility within 12 months from the date the lease expires or the termination of the lease. If a government authority does not already require a decommissioning bond, then leases will require restoration security in the form of escrow, letter of credit, or bond. The Build-Ready Request for Proposals will require a plan for responsibly decommissioning the facility at the end of its useful life, including identification of the party or parties responsible for decommissioning. The plan should include the required steps to remove the system, dispose of or recycle its components, and restore the land to its original state.

For Local Communities

What are the benefits to the community?

Build-Ready can create benefits for local communities in several different ways. These can include a host community benefit package, a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) and/or discounts or credits on utility bills.

How does Build-Ready determine what locality is the host community that will receive benefits from an approved project?

The locality that is the host community is dependent on the type of host community benefits. For example, an executed PILOT agreement is meant to include the host community’s taxing jurisdictions (towns/village, school district, and county). The extent of coverage for the utility bill credit to host communities will be established by the New York State Public Service Commission.

Are solar panels toxic?

Solar panels largely consist of widely used and non-toxic components, including an aluminum frame, tempered glass, and various common plastics. The most common type of solar panel consists of crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells which generate electricity when exposed to light. These non-toxic crystalline silicon cells consist almost entirely of silicon, one of the most common elements in the Earth’s crust.

Should we be worried about electromagnetic fields (EMF) associated with solar?

There are two kinds of EMF; “ionizing fields,” which are high level and harmful, and “non-ionizing,” which are low-level and generally harmless. Non-ionizing radiation comes from computers, appliances, cell phones, and wireless routers, whereas ionizing radiation comes from harmful sources such as UV lights or X-rays. EMF from solar systems are non-ionizing, similar to that of household appliances. Studies show that the exposure level within the array or at the fenced boundary of a system falls well below recommended exposure limits. This exposure level decreases even more as you move away from the system and is nonexistent at night when the system is not producing energy. Ultimately, EMF from solar systems is extremely insignificant and cannot be associated with a health effect.

Do solar panels create glare?

Solar panels are designed to be dark colors, usually black or blue, that absorb the sunlight to create electricity. If panels were reflecting the sun, or creating glare, they would not be effective. PV panels are designed with anti-reflective coating to increase panel efficiency and keep the level of reflected light around 2% - less than the reflectivity of water.

Do fire departments need special equipment to handle solar panel fires?

No special equipment is needed to handle solar panel fires, just proper training. Solar panels, like any electrical device, can be a fire hazard themselves or act as a physical barrier that hinders the ability of firefighters to put out an unrelated fire. Project developers and municipalities must ensure the local fire department is aware of the installation and informed about the procedures for de-electrifying the system and responding to incidents. In addition, the New York State Fire Code directly addresses solar PV installations, requiring clear labeling, instructions, setbacks, and safety features.

Do solar PV systems generate noise?

Solar panels are noise-free, and residential solar inverters are quieter than a refrigerator. Large-scale, ground-mounted systems may have minor noise associated with the transformers and inverters within the array as well as the electrical equipment used as required for utility interconnection. Any system noise is typically at background levels at a distance of 50 to 150 feet from the site boundary.

My region is often overcast or cloudy. Does solar really make sense in New York?

Yes! It is a common misconception that solar only works well in climates where there is abundant sunshine. Solar panels do not require perfectly sunny weather to generate electricity, and modern solar resource datasets allow developers to accurately estimate the amount of sunshine at a given location. Solar PV technology continues to become more efficient, enabling solar projects to generate in the absence of strong, direct sunlight, and increasing the viability of project locations throughout New York. Additionally, the cooler temperatures in New York actually make panels more efficient. Combined with the strong demand for renewable energy throughout New York, availability of suitable land, and supportive policies, solar makes sense in most areas of New York State.