On March 25 the New York Public Service Commission approved more than $279 million over a five-year period for customer- sited renewable energy projects as part of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) program. This funding will enable thousands of homeowners and businesses to install solar panels, fuel cells, wind turbines and other renewable energy devices. In addition, the Commission approved $150 million for large-scale solar photovoltaic, anaerobic digester and fuel cell projects in and around the lower Hudson Valley and the New York City metropolitan area.
The ratepayer-funded RPS initiative employs two programs to encourage the development of renewable energy. Both programs are administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The bulk of the electricity is obtained through competitive procurements for large-scale renewable resources, known as the main tier. The customer-sited tier promotes smaller, self-generation facilities located at residences and businesses.
The customer-sited tier is designed to encourage emerging technologies to play a role in diversifying the state’s energy mix, improve the environment, reduce demand during peak load times, and stimulate economic development opportunities. The major benefits of the customer- sited tier include customer participation, technological innovation and commercialization, economic development, fuel diversity, environmental mitigation and strategic load reduction. It helps create market demand and new jobs and has enabled New York to attract new investments.
Technologies eligible for participation in the customer-sited tier include solar photovoltaic, anaerobic digesters, fuel cells and small wind. This decision added solar thermal hot water to the list of eligible technologies. Funding amounts are as follows: solar photovoltaic ($144 million); anaerobic digesters ($70.5 million); fuel cells ($21.6 million); small wind ($18.1 million); and solar thermal ($24.7 million).