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NY regulators approve shared solar project amid expanded solar use

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NY regulators approve shared solar project amid expanded solar use

The state-run New York Energy Research and Development Authority and the Albany, N.Y.-based Center for Economic Growth announced on Aug. 3 the launch of New York's first state-supported Solarize campaign to help manufacturers and commercial businesses install solar systems. Centered around the Capital Region surrounding Albany, Center for Economic Growth's so-called SolarGEN Solarize campaign will offer competitive pricing to potential solar customers through joint purchasing arrangements.

The campaign will be funded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's larger Solarize program, which is in its third round since being launched in 2016. The larger Solarize program has already installed or is in the process of building 850 solar projects across the state.

New York's push to spur the development of community distributed generation like solar is part of Gov. Cuomo's wider Reforming the Energy Vision initiative to modernize and transform the state's power grid and energy systems while mitigating climate change. The REV energy transition also seeks to procure 50% of New York's electricity from solar and other renewables by 2030.

The solar campaign launch follows the New York State Public Service Commission's Aug. 2 approval of one of the first shared solar projects in New York City that will generate power exclusively for low-income customers in multifamily dwellings. Consisting of solar panels placed on utility-owned rooftops and property, the 3-MW large-scale pilot project by Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc. will save up to 1,600 customers $5 each a month in energy bills by selling its electricity onto the grid. Con Edison has proposed expanding the project to 11 MW to serve 6,000 customers throughout its service territory.

"By serving low-income residents with clean energy, Con Edison is filling a niche that hasn’t been fully served in the state," said Commission Chairman John Rhodes in a news release. "The insight gained from this pilot will lead to market development of other shared solar arrays around the state that will bring the benefits of clean energy to more low-income customers.”

During the same Aug. 2 commission meeting, the state regulators approved plans to allow municipalities to start using remote solar farms to offset the cost of their street lights and directed utilities to file plans to accommodate their local governments.

Chairman Rhodes said the plan could save taxpayers thousands of dollars every year by reducing the costs of street lighting for cities, towns and villages. The move was requested by the city of Beacon, Dutchess County and its partners, solar developers, Sunlight Beacon LLC and BQ Energy LLC. The developers will be compensated for the value of their solar electricity produced at a planned 2-MW solar farm at the city's closed landfill.