- The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority on June 5 requested regulatory approval along with $50 million for its incentive program to identify sites for renewable energy projects and auction them off to private developers as authorized in an April budget bill.
"They're going to try to get six sites a year up and going," Cullen Howe, a clean energy advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Utility Dive. NYSERDA wants to launch six projects a year, beginning in 2022 or 2023.
- "We hope for a program that doesn't compete with private developers to locate good sites for new solar and wind projects, but instead finds sites where development would be complicated for the private sector," Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACENY) told Utility Dive by email.
NYSERDA was instructed to develop and implement the Build-Ready incentive program quickly with April's passage of the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act. The budget act was intended to jumpstart efforts under the state's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) passed in June 2019.
Under the CLCPA, New York State increased its renewable energy target from 50% to 70% by 2030 and changed it from a goal to a mandate.
NYSERDA's petition to the Public Service Commission requests approval to initiate the program and release funding for activities through 2025. Brownfields and other less desirable commercial sites are targeted for development under the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act.
"By selecting brownfields and other industrial sites, NYSERDA would be developing sites that private developers wouldn't otherwise select," Howe told Utility Dive.
"Assuming that this program finds sites that might be hard to develop — because they have contaminated land, are owned by the State, or have some other complications — it should increase the overall amount of sites being developed for wind and solar," ACENY's Reynolds told Utility Dive.
"We support anything that provides new avenues for investment in wind and solar power. This is the best way to bring new investment and construction jobs to New York," Reynolds said.
NRDC's Howe said some of the Build-Ready sites may be near environmental justice communities, which could be met with objections from community members.
These issues need to be seriously examined and addressed before moving forward, he said.
Steps in the Build-Ready program, according to NYSERDA's petition, would include:
- Reviewing previously developed and otherwise underutilized sites for feasibility;
- Screening sites, particularly sites with existing environmental conditions or restrictions, such as brownfields, landfills, and former commercial or industrial sites;
- Establishing community benefit programs with property owners and communities, which include Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreements with municipalities or other programs and benefits;
- Accepting offers from private renewable energy developers for approved sites, bundled with a long-term Renewable Energy Credit contract; and
- Returning funds from payments received from awarded proposers for development rights into the project's funds for additional sites.
"The only way [New York] can advance towards the 70% by 2030 goal is to get wind and solar projects under construction, so this is a step in the right direction," Reynolds told Utility Dive.
Update: This brief has been updated with additional input from NRDC's Cullen Howe regarding environmental justice and potential renewable energy sites.