New York Tops 1 GW of Community Solar Installations

New York officials announced a milestone for the state’s solar power sector, with Gov. Kathy Hochul saying more than 1 GW of community solar generation capacity has been installed across the region.

Hochul also said New York has the nation’s largest pipeline of community solar under construction, with more than 700 projects in the queue that could generate about 2.3 GW of power. The governor on March 22 said the state continues to progress toward meeting the goal of the state’s Leadership and Community Protection Act, known as the Climate Act, to generate 70% of New York’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030. The governor also has set a goal of having at least 10 GW of solar power generation installed by the end of the decade.

“Reaching this nation-leading milestone—with more than one gigawatt of community solar installed—is a testament to New York’s aggressive pursuit of clean-energy alternatives that will supercharge our economy and bring us one step closer to a carbon-neutral future,” Hochul said. “New York is once again making clean energy history, and with many families facing the burden of rising energy costs, my administration remains committed to expanding access to solar energy, which will deliver savings and stabilize electricity bills while meeting our aggressive climate goals.”

Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, speaking Tuesday in Schenectady County at a 7.5-MW community solar project, said, “Over one gigawatt of progress was made today, enough to power over 200,000 homes across New York State. When we think about the future of our state, we must think about both the economic prosperity we aim for, in addition to the welfare of our children. Now, when those future generations of New Yorkers look toward today, they’ll know progress was made with them in mind. I’m proud to announce today that New York is the capital of solar power in the United States.”

Solar Plus Storage

Benjamin noted that the project in Schenectady County includes 10 MWh of energy storage. The solar-plus-storage plant is built on the site of a former landfill. The project, located in Glenville, was developed by DSD Renewables, which owns and operates the project.

Erik Schiemann, CEO of DSD Renewables, said, “We are really proud of the Schenectady portfolio and the innovation we were able to bring to it, and the fact it’s in the backyard of our headquarters is a major highlight. However, it’s working with partners like NYSERDA [New York State Energy Research and Development Authority] and our neighbors and stakeholders in the communities in which we live and work across New York that motivates DSD to continue to do our part in accelerating the state’s Climate Act initiative.”

DSD has been a participant in POWER’s Distributed Energy Conference, where company representatives have discussed their work with community solar and commercial and industrial energy projects.  

Seven-Project Portfolio

Officials said the Glenville site is part of a seven-project, 25-MW portfolio developed in collaboration with the Schenectady County Solar Energy Consortium. Those projects are designed to enable each of the seven municipalities in Schenectady County, including the city of Schenectady, to be powered by 100% renewable energy.

Community solar, which comprised about 70% of all solar installations in New York state last year, enables access to solar for residential and commercial customers who may not be able to install solar panels on their homes or businesses. Subscribers to community solar programs receive a credit on their electric bills for their portion of the solar system’s output.

Kevin Parker, a New York state senator who spoke at the Distributed Energy Conference in 2020, said, “As the Chair of the Energy and Telecommunications Committee I applaud NYSERDA and NY-Sun for helping our state get to this milestone achievement. At this rate I know we can reach the governor’s goal to achieve 10 GW of solar by 2030.”

73 Utility-Scale Projects

Officials on Tuesday said state government is supporting another 73 utility-scale solar power projects. The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), along with Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, in a recent report said New York now leads the nation in community solar deployment, ahead of second-place Minnesota. The group said New York also led the nation in the number of installations in 2021, with more than double the number of new projects coming online compared to runner-up Massachusetts.

“New York is again setting an example for states across the country on how investing in community solar can bring clean energy into the homes of thousands of families while also moving the state closer to reaching our climate goals,” said Doreen M. Harris, president and CEO of NYSERDA. “With a massive pipeline still to build, we are charting a path for all New Yorkers to be able to sign up for renewable projects like these to lower their electricity costs and be part of our climate change solution.”

NYSERDA is supporting solar power in New York through its $1.8 billion NY-Sun program, an initiative designed to advance the scale-up of solar power and make solar energy more accessible to homes, businesses, and communities. The group said that installed distributed solar projects, combined with projects that are under development, will bring the state to 95% of the current Climate Act goal to install 6 GW of distributed solar in New York by 2025.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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