Governor Announces Receives $2.4 Million Federal Grant to Lower Cost of Installing Solar

Velmanette Montgomery

November 07, 2013

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York State has won a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge II award to support NYSolar Smart, a project to streamline the solar installation process in the state and lower the cost of solar using innovative financing mechanisms and information technology (IT) solutions, which was developed by the City University of New York (CUNY) under the Governor’s NY-Sun initiative.

NYSolar Smart is a collaborative effort among CUNY; New York Power Authority (NYPA), which will match the federal award with $500,000; the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which will provide a $100,000 match; 16 cities, towns and villages representing more than 50 percent of New York State residents, which will provide $390,800 to the effort; and more than 30 organizations representing utility companies, installers, government agencies and industry leaders.

Participating cities, towns and villages in NYSolar Smart:

City of Albany

City of Ithaca

City of Rochester

City of Poughkeepsie

Town of Clifton Park

City of Yonkers

Town of Huntington

Town of Warwick

Town of Southampton

City of Syracuse

City of Schenectady

Town of Red Hook

City of White Plains

New York City

Town of Hempstead

Village of Warwick

The NYSolar Smart program will create a toolkit of policies, programs and resources to enable cities and towns, utilities, industry and residents to reduce the time and cost of installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that provide electricity on-site at homes, businesses and other buildings. These tools include virtual net-metering guidelines for master-metered buildings, group purchasing programs and model zoning ordinances.

In addition, IT tools developed under this award encompass web-accessible permitting, solar maps, market analytics, and a pilot for a customizable online customer acquisition system and a one-stop PV market portal. These efforts build upon the NYPA-supported New York State Solar Map currently under development by CUNY.

"This award, which leverages State and local funds with federal funding, recognizes the value of NYSolar Smart, which brings together stakeholders across New York to reduce the costs associated with solar while growing New York’s clean-energy economy and advancing Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun goals,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. "We thank the Department of Energy, and look forward to working in collaboration with CUNY and NYPA in removing those barriers that currently face municipalities and others in their efforts to install solar in their communities."

Working groups, which will include representatives from various NYSolar Smart partners, will work on the following topics to reduce “soft costs” of solar projects:

· Permitting and interconnection

· Net metering and interconnection standards

· Planning and zoning

· Financial options

NYSERDA is also providing municipalities that adopt the recently developed New York State Unified Solar Permit and procedures with between $2,500 and $5,000, depending on population, through Governor Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities program.

The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, DOE supports efforts by private companies, academia, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at http://www.energy.gov/sunshot. In 2011, CUNY won a SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge I award on behalf of New York City.

Governor Cuomo launched the NY-Sun initiative to accelerate the installation of solar power in New York State. Combined efforts of NYSERDA, NYPA and LIPA in 2012 led to the successful installation of more than 58 megawatts (MW) of PV in the State, nearly doubling the amount of customer-sited PV installed in 2011. A total of 299 MW of PV has been installed or is under development as part of NY-Sun.

In 2013 CUNY, NYSERDA and NYPA began statewide activities to lower soft costs of PV, including formation of a New York State Advisory Board, completion of a statewide survey of towns and cities regarding solar installation processes, development of a standard permit for residential PV and funding for a New York State solar ombudsmen and a coordinator.

For more information on NYSolar Smart, please visit nysolarsmart.org.