New York governor calls for expansion of NY-Sun scheme to support at least 10GW of solar

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New York is aiming to reach a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040. Image: Con Edison.

New York’s governor has proposed an expansion of the NY-Sun distributed solar incentive programme and revealed plans for two transmission projects that will transport renewable energy to New York City to help the state reach 70% renewable electricity by 2030.

Kathy Hochul, who was sworn in as governor last month, is calling for the state’s NY-Sun scheme to achieve a new goal of at least 10GW of distributed solar installed by 2030, up from the current target of 6GW by 2025.

Expanding the initiative is expected to help bolster New York’s economic recovery following COVID-19 with the creation of 6,000 solar jobs, in addition to the 12,000 that already exist across the state. The programme will also deliver at least 35% of the benefits from the investments to disadvantaged communities and low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

“With this expansion, we are demonstrating New York State’s commitment to increasing the amount of renewable energy flowing to the electric grid as well as creating more jobs in the solar industry in support of our growing clean energy economy,” Governor Hochul said.

The NY-Sun scheme provides cash incentives and/or financing for the deployment of new grid-connected solar systems for residential installs up to 25kW. Support is also provided for non-residential systems up to 750kW or 7.5MW, depending on their location. Since 2011, the programme has provided more than US$1 billion in incentives to support the addition of solar at 145,000 properties across New York State.

Currently, installed distributed solar systems, combined with the projects that are under development, bring the state to 95% of the current Climate Act goal of reaching 6GW of solar by 2025.

Hochul has called on the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and New York State Department of Public Service to develop a distributed solar roadmap to chart a path to reach the new goal in a “resilient, cost-effective and responsible manner”. It is expected the roadmap will be issued for public comment and subsequent decision-making in early 2022.

“Governor Hochul’s 10GW target for distributed solar will help us expand rooftop and community solar to even more families in New York, all while cleaning our air, creating high-quality jobs, and strengthening our communities,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, adding: “The solar industry stands ready to help New York meet this ambitious target.”

Transmission project proposals

Hochul also said two transmission projects have been selected to transport a combination of solar, wind and hydropower energy from Canada and upstate to high-demand areas in downstate New York.

The Clean Path NY project, to be developed by Forward Power (a joint venture between Invenergy and EnergyRe) and the New York Power Authority, will feature a 174-mile transmission line running from a substation in Delaware County to New York City, featuring a buried cable that will “be more resilient than above-ground alternatives in the face of severe weather and security threats”, according to a statement from Hochul’s office.

The second development, dubbed the Champlain Hudson Power Express project, will be carried out by Transmission Developers and Hydro-Québec, and consist of a 339-mile transmission line from Hydro-Quebec’s wind and hydropower installations in Canada to New York City.

These projects are in addition to a 250-mile ‘green energy transmission superhighway’ that was announced earlier this year to cut congestion costs due to grid bottlenecks.

It is hoped the new transmission lines will improve air quality and public health in disadvantaged communities while accelerating progress to exceed New York’s goal for 70% of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 as it aims to reach a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040.

Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, said the plans represent a “transformative moment” for the city’s fight against climate change, adding: “Two new transmission lines connecting New York City to electricity from water, the wind, and solar will create thousands of good union jobs, improve the resilience and reliability of our power supply, and dramatically reduce our reliance on oil and gas electricity that dirties the air in our neighbourhoods and endangers our planet.”

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