Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the Inclusive Community Solar Adder program that makes $52.5 million available for community solar projects that support underserved New Yorkers and disadvantaged communities. Projects funded through the program are expected to serve up to 50,000 low-to-moderate income households, affordable housing providers, and facilities serving disadvantaged communities, which will receive energy bill savings from the clean, renewable energy generated by community solar. Increasing access to solar energy for low-income residents supports Governor Cuomo’s goal to ensure that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments go to disadvantaged communities as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
“This administration is committed to expanding access to solar energy to all New Yorkers as we work to ensure an equitable and just transition to a green economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “This program will provide the necessary support to bring forward solar projects in communities that are historically underserved and can gain the most from the health and environmental benefits and cost-savings.”
“Low-income communities face the greatest threats from climate change, and New York State is committed to investing in projects and resources that ensure a cleaner, greener future for all generations,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The Inclusive Community Solar Adder program will increase access to community solar, providing energy bill savings for individuals living in and organizations based in these communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.”
The Inclusive Community Solar Adder program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, provides an additional incentive for NY-Sun community solar projects that dedicate at least 20 percent of their project to eligible low-to-moderate income households and disadvantaged communities. The program adder will increase access to community solar, help customers save at least 10 percent on their electric bills, and reduce operating costs for affordable housing and nonprofits serving disadvantaged communities. Bonus incentives will be awarded for projects sited in environmental justice communities burdened by conventional power generating facilities.
NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “As we build a more resilient grid, it’s of critical importance that we remove barriers and scale up access to clean, renewable energy resources for all New Yorkers. NYSERDA’s Inclusive Community Solar Adder program is unique in that it takes a two-pronged approach to increasing access to solar energy and cost savings by serving both families and affordable housing providers who support residents in disadvantaged communities.”
The program design was informed by a Request for Information issued by NYSERDA in December 2020, and by stakeholders who participated in a March 2021 webinar hosted by NYSERDA. Another webinar on the program will be held on July 28, 2021 from 1-2 p.m. Please click here to register. For more information on the program, visit NYSERDA’s website.
Community solar projects increase access to solar for homeowners and renters who may not have ideal conditions to directly install solar panels onsite. Through community solar arrangements, energy is still delivered by a customer’s regular electric provider, and the power produced from the community solar array is fed directly back to the electric grid. As the grid is supplied with clean, renewable energy, subscribers receive credit on their electric bills for their portion of the community solar system. In 2020, New York was named the nation’s leading community solar market.
New York Solar Energy Industries Association Executive Director ShyamMehta said, “The Inclusive Community Solar Adder program will be a critical mechanism in expanding Community Solar’s many benefits to low-and-moderate income and environmental justice communities and addressing crucial equity, access, and inclusion considerations related to the achievement of New York’s CLCPA goals and our transition to a fully decarbonized electricity sector. NYSEIA and its members appreciate the hard work, robust stakeholder process, and thoughtful program design pertaining to the ICSA, and are excited to participate in this program as it is rolled out across the state.”
Solar Energy Industries Association Senior Director of State Policy, East, David Gahl said, “The Inclusive Community Solar Adder program will offer tangible benefits to low-income customers around the state, encourage the long-term development of community solar, and bring the benefits of solar energy to tens of thousands of New Yorkers. SEIA and our members look forward to working with NYSERDA and state leaders to help make this effort a success.”
Coalition for Community Solar Access Northeast Regional Director Kaitlin Kelly O’Neill said, “The launch of the Inclusive Community Solar Adder program is a big step towards expanding the cost-savings and clean energy benefits of New York’s community solar program to low- and moderate-income residents. We are excited to see the hard work and commitment of NYSERDA resulting in a dedicated resource that further expands the accessibility of community solar projects for all the state’s energy consumers.”
Since 2011, Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative, which provides incentives to support the growth of the solar industry, committed $30 million for projects directly benefiting environmental justice and disadvantaged communities. In addition to more than three gigawatts of distributed solar installed statewide, there is another 2.7 gigawatts of solar that have been awarded NY-Sun incentives. These projects are now under development, most of which will come online in the next two years, with enough capacity to power an additional 477,000 homes. Together, these projects will bring New York State to 95 percent of the six-gigawatt target mandated in the Climate Act. Currently, over 90 percent of the pipeline is community solar, including more than 800 community solar projects under development that will expand access to more New Yorkers including low-to-moderate income households.
In addition to the new Inclusive Community Solar Adder program, NY-Sun provides increased access to community solar projects for disadvantaged communities through its Solar For All initiative. The no-cost program currently has nearly 4,000 subscribers and is open to residents of New York State that have a household income below 60 percent of the state median income. Additionally, NY-Sun’s Affordable Solar program provides additional incentives to help low-to-moderate income customers install their own solar project. More than 750 individual projects have been supported through the Affordable Solar program to date.
New York State’s Nation-Leading Climate Plan
Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York’s unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $21 billion in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2019, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.
NY-Sun is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s $1.8 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the State closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. Since 2011, solar in New York State has grown over 2,100 percent, leveraged $5.3 billion in private investments and decreased the cost of solar by 69 percent. There are approximately 12,000 people engaged in solar jobs across New York.