New York solar programme announces strong demand despite Sandy delays

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New York state's solar programme yesterday announced strong demand despite the destruction of Hurricane Sandy last year.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority awarded $46 million for 52MW of commercial sector projects. The deadline had been extended for a month to December 5 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The $46 million from New York State is expected to leverage $100 million in private investment. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office this week announced the first of three rounds of awards to 76 projects for installations larger than 50kW. The awards were made to 28 recipients in 33 counties across the state.

“The NY-Sun initiative is driving the growth of solar energy systems that will help businesses and municipalities benefit from cost-effective, on-site electricity generation,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “At the same time, it is building the State’s clean-energy economy and growing jobs, showcasing once again that New York is a leader in renewable energy and environmental stewardship.”

The awards bring the total PV installed or under development as part of the NY-Sun Competitive PV Programme to 242MW. NY-Sun aims to invest $800 million through 2015 and install double the PV capacity added during 2011 and quadruple that in 2013.

During his State of the State address earlier this year Governor Cuomo committed to extend the NY-Sun Initiative at $150 million annually to 2023. He also announced a $1 billion green bank to leverage public dollars with a private sector match to spur the clean economy.

Jackson Morris, director of strategic engagement at the Pace Energy & Climate Centre, said: “Governor Cuomo’s launch of NY-Sun last year is delivering on its promise to jumpstart the solar industry in the Empire State; attracting private sector investment, creating local jobs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution from the electric sector.

“This announcement illustrates how a robust, long-term commitment to solar in New York will drive down costs and maximize benefits to consumers and the grid.”

The announcement from Governor Cuomo also notes a steady decline in the cost to build solar PV projects. In 2011, the portfolio-weighted average incentive awarded was $1.30/W, while in 2012 it had dropped to $0.93/W. This week's awards represent a further decline to $0.88/W, or about 30% of the project costs.

Carrie Cullen Hitt, senior vice president for state affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association, said: “The resounding solar success we are seeing is just the beginning for New York. Governor Cuomo’s ambitious vision for a 10 year extension of the NY-Sun Initiative will drive the kind of investment that it takes to build a world-class solar market.”

The awards were made under the first of three rounds of the Competitive PV solicitation, which is a key element of New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard programme. Second round proposals have been received, and proposals for the third round are due August 29, 2013. In addition to the Competitive PV programme, NYSERDA also offers a smaller-scale solar PV programme (projects of 50kW or less) under the NY-Sun Initiative. Funding is $3.1 million per month in 2013.

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