The Clean Energy Policy Landscape in NYS
ACE NY advocates for policies that support the growth of renewable energy and energy efficiency in New York State. This happens in a variety of policy arenas, such as at the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the Legislature.
Clean Energy Standard
New York’s Clean Energy Standard (CES), established by Order of the Public Service Commission on August 1, 2016, is a mandate that 50% of New York’s electricity be from renewable resources by 2030. When the CES was created, roughly 25% of total electricity used in New York already came from renewable sources, so the CES was designed to boost that up to 50%. See CASE 15-E-0302.
In January 2019, the Governor announced his intention to increase the CES from 50% to 70% for renewable sources, also by 2030.
The CES has two distinct components – the nuclear program and the renewable energy standard (RES).
The RES requires all electricity suppliers to purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) resulting from new projects at a small percentage of their total load, increasing each year. To ensure that there is a source of RECs to buy, NYSERDA will enter into 20-year contracts for RECs for new eligible renewable energy projects, which can be wind, solar, sustainable biomass, hydropower, or fuel cells. NYSERDA has a web page dedicated to the CES.
The RES also includes an obligation for electricity suppliers to buy offshore wind, established in a July 2018 Order from the PSC..
Finally, the CES has a Maintenance Tier available to pre-2015 renewable energy generators that can demonstrate financial hardship. Other than the Maintenance Tier, however, there is currently no other support for pre-2015 renewables.
Renewables Siting and Interconnection
In New York, proposed power projects larger than 25MW must seek approval from the Siting Board under Article 10 of the Public Service Law. ACE NY tracks the progress of wind and solar projects through Article 10. Projects smaller than 25 MW must comply with SEQRA, the State Environmental Quality Act, to get approved, and must also obtain other relevant state permits.
Large-scale renewables, i.e. those connected to the transmission grid, must also seek an interconnection agreement from the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). Like Article 10, the NYISO interconnection process is lengthy and expensive. ACE NY also tracks the progress of projects through the interconnection queue, which you can view on the NYISO’s planning page.
Striving for Energy Efficiency
In its Order Adopting Accelerated Energy Efficiency Targets, NYS adopted a goal of 185TBtu of customer-level energy reduction by 2025, an aggressive goal that will require concerted action. ACE NY advocates for energy efficiency (EE) progress on behalf of its member companies, both at the PSC (See CASE 18-M-0084) and at NYSERDA, whose EE efforts are largely funded by NY’s Clean Energy Fund, which was also established by the PSC.
Distributed Energy Resources: NY-Sun, VDER
Meeting NYS’s aggressive goals will require a flourishing of distributed generation (DG), both solar and other distributed energy resources (DER). Distributed solar is supported in New York by NY-Sun which includes a direct financial support program referred to as the declining MW block program, as well as other components like guidance to municipal governments, the Solar for All program, and the K-Solar Program run by NYPA.
Distributed solar and other DER has also been supported by net metering a policy that allows customers to get credits on their electric bill at retail rates, for all of the electricity that they produce onsite using eligible technologies, like solar, small wind, or farm-based digesters. Net metering has been one of the important and successful tools for promoting solar and other DER in New York.
In recent years, as part of its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative, New York has been transitioning away from retail net metering to a system that attempts to compensate solar and other DER what it is actually worth. This system is being developed at the PSC in CASE 15-E-0751. Phase One of VDER was established by an Order of the Commission on March 9, 2017, but the policy is still evolving and changing. Both NYSERDA and the PSC have sites explaining VDER: here and here.