Office of Renewable Energy Siting
The Office of Renewable Energy Siting (the Siting Office), created by the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act (the Act), will serve as the central forum for siting and permitting new large-scale renewable energy facilities in New York State. The first-of-its-kind Siting Office will ensure that siting decisions are predictable, responsible, and timely, while providing opportunities for local engagement throughout the review process. Within one year of the Act’s passage, the Siting Office will establish comprehensive regulations and uniform permit standards and conditions (USC), working with involved State Agencies to consider potential environmental impacts and necessary mitigation efforts. Prior to the adoption of the USC, the Siting Office will conduct four public hearings across the State, providing a formal opportunity for local governments and stakeholders to offer input.
Applicability and Timeline
- New large-scale renewable energy projects equal to or larger than 25 megawatts (MW) will be required to seek a permit through the Siting Office.
- New renewable energy projects between 20–25 MW, as well as existing projects in the initial phases of the Article 10 review process, may opt-in to this new review process.
- If deemed complete, applications for a permit through the Siting Office will be acted upon within one year; projects proposed on certain previously developed commercial and industrial sites will be acted upon within six months.
- If the Siting Office does not make a determination within the required timeframe, the draft permit will be deemed approved and a permit granted.
Opportunities for Local Input
- No application will be deemed complete without proof of consultation with the host community regarding procedural and substantive requirements of applicable local laws.
- Municipalities will be notified upon the publishing of an application’s draft permit conditions and shall provide feedback on the draft permit conditions and the proposed facility’s compliance with local laws within the subsequent 60-day public comment period. The Siting Office is required to consider any applicable local law when making a determination.
- If host community statements raise any substantive and significant issues that require adjudication, the Siting Office may establish a date for an adjudicatory hearing. If substantive or significant issues are raised and the Siting Office does not hold an adjudicatory hearing, a public hearing will be scheduled in the host community.
NYSERDA offers a variety of resources, including Solar, Energy Storage, and Wind Guidebooks, to support communities with responsibly siting clean energy projects. NYSERDA may update these resources, as necessary, to ensure alignment with any new standards.
Community and Local Government Benefits
- The Public Service Commission will hold a proceeding to determine how best to provide communities with a compensatory benefit for hosting a major renewable facility, such as a discount or credit on utility bills.
- Local government agencies and community intervenors will have access to funds ($1,000/MW), administered by NYSERDA. These funds are to be distributed pursuant to regulations and at the direction of the Executive Director of the Siting Office, to ensure effective participation in the permitting process.
- As a condition for approval, permits will include a provision requiring host community benefits.