“Community Credit” will help expand access to community solar for more New Yorkers
April 19, 2019 -- Yesterday, the State of New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) issued its long-awaited order (PDF) updating the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) tariff, which compensates distributed energy resources, like solar, for the collective environmental and societal benefits they provide to the state’s electrical grid.
For more than a year, the Clean Energy Parties, a coalition for clean energy industry associations, environmental organizations and advocates for solar, worked with the PSC to drive the important changes that were announced today. Among many changes, today’s order includes a few key improvements that directly benefit future solar projects in New York:
- Revises the method for how the value of reduced energy demand is determined, making these values more predictable for all solar projects, including projects benefiting municipalities and businesses.
- Creates a “community credit” as part of VDER, which will help ensure that all New York customers, including schools, businesses, and local governments are able to participate in community solar projects.
- Extends net metering to projects under 750 kilowatts in size, which will encourage the development of on-site solar projects serving certain commercial customers.
While there is more work ahead to improve the VDER tariff over the long-term, including making changes to the way environmental values are determined and addressing billing issues, the changes made by the PSC today will help New York reach Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal of installing six gigawatts of distributed solar in the Empire State by 2025.
“The Commission’s order will help unlock New York’s community solar market and get projects moving forward into construction across the state – creating access to solar for tens of thousands more homes and businesses,” said Jeff Cramer, Executive Director of the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “It will take continued focus from the Commission to truly transition New York’s outdated electric system into one that provides access to affordable local clean power for all New Yorkers. In particular, we look forward to working with the Commission to improve utility billing services for community solar customers to ensure a positive customer experience.”
“The recommendations adopted today significantly improve the VDER tariff and should more fairly and accurately compensate larger solar projects for the energy they produce,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “We commend the PSC for making these changes, which will help keep New York on track to meet the Governor’s solar goals and we look forward to working with the DPS on properly valuing solar energy's full benefits in the coming months.”
“Solar projects serving commercial customers and community solar projects are bringing good jobs and clean energy to New York, and this market needs to flourish to help us reach our renewable energy goals. We are very pleased that progress is being made in this proceeding to make the solar market more certain and viable,” said Anne Reynolds, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York. “The end goal is a fair compensation system that allows all solar to grow, and this Order will help reach that goal.”
"New York has set an ambitious goal of building enough solar to power one million homes by 2025, and the Public Service Commission's order is one step on the path to achieving that. This solar-powered vision of New York will mean thousands of jobs, millions of dollars in private investment and cleaner air in communities all across the State," said Sean Garren, Northeast Senior Director for Vote Solar. "I applaud the Commission for making some important fixes to the Value of Distributed Energy Resources tariff, how solar customers are compensated for their valuable clean, local energy, which will enable more cities and towns, schools and businesses to choose solar and expand access to cost-saving community solar. We look forward to the critical work ahead with the Commission as we further improve the tariff and remove other barriers to solar adoption."
"The PSC ruling today is a significant step in the right direction, giving New York solar companies the clear guidelines they need to build our clean energy infrastructure and generate green jobs," said Shyam Mehta, Executive Director of New York Solar Energy Industries Association. "In particular, we commend the Commission on reinstating Phase One Net Energy Metering for onsite projects below 750 kW-AC. This ruling will give small commercial customers the simplicity and compensation they need to go solar."
“The Commission’s order is positive in several ways, but it is definitely better as a result of the continued engagement of advocates and solar industry representatives who invested time and money in what is now years of work,” said Karl R. Rábago, executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center, “We look forward to continued engagement to ensure that New York remains a leader in clean energy market development.”
“Transitioning away from fossil fuels and doubling down on clean energy has never been more urgent, and this order will help do just that – by providing a significant boost to solar in New York,” said Cullen Howe, Senior Renewable Energy Advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “While work remains to be done, these projects will help create good-paying jobs and move the needle forward in the state’s ability to meet its clean energy goals.”
About Vote Solar:
Since 2002, Vote Solar has been working to lower solar costs and expand solar access. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Vote Solar advocates for state policies and programs needed to repower our electric grid with clean energy. Learn more at www.votesolar.org
About Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA):
The Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) is a national Coalition of businesses and non-profits working to expand customer choice and access to solar to all American households and businesses through community solar. Community solar refers to local solar facilities shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credits on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced.
Community solar provides homeowners, renters, and businesses equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of their home or business. Community solar expands access to solar for all, including low-to-moderate income customers, all while building a stronger, distributed, and more resilient electric grid. For more information, visit our website at www.communitysolaraccess.org, follow us on Twitter at @solaraccess and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/communitysolaraccess.
Celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2019, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 242,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.
About Pace Energy and Climate Center:
For over 30 years, the Pace Energy and Climate Change Center has been a leader working at the intersection of energy and the environment. Pace engages government decision makers and key stakeholders with robust research and analysis in law and policy.
About Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
About New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA):
Founded in 1994, New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA) is the only statewide membership and trade association dedicated solely to advancing solar energy use in New York State. NYSEIA proudly represents hundreds of businesses across New York that employ thousands of workers throughout the solar value chain. Led by a diverse board of directors, NYSEIA strives to achieve significant, long-term, and sustainable growth of solar energy in New York.
About Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACENY):
The Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) is a broad coalition dedicated to promoting clean energy, energy efficiency, a healthy environment, and a strong economy for the Empire State, and is New York’s premier advocate for the rapid adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. www.aceny.org
Photo Credit: Institute for Local-Self Reliance