- The New York State Public Service Commission last week approved new regulations aimed at making it faster and easier for solar energy, microgrids and other distributed generation projects to connect to the electric grid, Platts reports.
- The state has increased, from 2 MW to 5 MW, the size of distributed generation projects that may apply for grid connection under the state’s “standardized interconnection” process.
- Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman said the new rules would help utilities to find the best places to connect solar power projects, accelerate the adoption of distributed resources and advance the state's Clean Energy Standard.
While the increase in the size of distributed projects is the headline, New York last week passed other rules aimed at pushing the state ahead in the adoption of low-carbon resources.
In addition to raising project limits to 5 MW, regulators changed the up-front costs which must be borne by developers. Under the previous regulations, interconnection developers had to pay the entire cost of interconnections up front but the PSC said that up-front cost will now be cut to 25%. However, construction still cannot begin until full payment is received. The commission also amended its rules to enable utilities to more-easily process and analyze the large numbers of applications currently filed by solar and other distributed resource developers.
Zibelman said that while some states have passed regulations which are slowing the development of clean energy resources, New York has moved deliberately in the other direction.
“New York has strongly embraced the development of renewable power as it considers changes to encourage and promote the financing and installation of solar and other clean-power sources,” Zibelman said “The overall goal for these [Standardized Interconnection Requirements] modifications is to enhance and speed up the interconnection application and review process, as well as the overall interconnection process."
"Given the significant increase in interconnection applications, improvements in the overall process are needed and further modifications may be needed as additional lessons are learned and technology evolves," Zibelman said.
New York is aiming to meet half of the state's power needs with renewable energy within the next five years. So far, from 2012 to 2015, the state has seen an increase of 575% in the amount of solar power installed and in development, the PSC said. This year, the state expects double-digit job growth in its solar industry.
“The dynamic growth of solar power under Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative is helping New York transform its energy systems to utilize clean, renewable and sustainable energy, providing both environmental and economic benefits," New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President John Rhodes said. "The new standardized interconnection requirements, in conjunction with other actions taken by the state, will improve coordination between solar developers and utilities, and provide a smooth pathway for additional solar projects."