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New York awards $1.4 billion to 26 renewable energy projects

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Friday announced that 26 large-scalerenewable energy projects were selected to help the state meet its cleanenergy goals, and he pushed back against the Trump administration'soffshore oil and gas drilling plans.

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"We believe the future is a clean energy economy, and New York is goingto lead a counter-movement to what this administration is doing to theenvironment and illuminate the path forward," Cuomo said during an eventthat was webcast from New York University.

The renewable energy projects consist of 22 utility-scale solar farms,three wind farms and one hydroelectric project that will collectively addover 1,380 MW of capacity. One of the wind farms incorporates an energystorage component, which marks the first time a large-scale renewableenergy project has included storage in New York State, according to astatement. Calpine Corp. will build the 122-MW Bluestone Wind project, coupled with6.2 MW of energy storage, in the towns of Windsor and Sanford.

The projects were awarded in response to the New York State EnergyResearch and Development Authority's 2017 Renewable Energy Standardrequest for proposals issued in June 2017. This was the first RFP underthe state's Clean Energy Standard, which mandates 50% of New York'selectricity must be generated from renewable energy sources by 2030.

The weighted average price was $21.17/MWh over the 20-year term of theawarded contracts. Several projects will break ground as early as April2018, and all projects are expected to be operational by 2022. Thewinning bids were selected from a pool of 88 applications from 30 cleanenergy developers. SOLICITATION GIVES UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR A BIG BOOST

New York's total installed solar capacity, including residential,utility-scale and non-residential solar installations, is 1,176 MW,according to data through third-quarter 2017 from the trade group SolarEnergy Industries Association.

An incremental 645 MW of utility-scale solar capacity from the 22 solarprojects selected will significantly increase the state's total. Theresults of the solicitation demonstrate that large-scale solar power is"now economically viable across New York State for the first time,"according to the statement.

NYSERDA will issue the next solicitation for large-scale renewable energyunder the Clean Energy Standard on April 25, 2018. To help meet thestate's commitment to deploying 1,500 MW of energy storage by 2025,NYSERDA is encouraging proposals that cost-effectively pair renewableenergy with advanced energy storage technologies.

NYSERDA anticipates making awards in September and issuing a subsequentsolicitation, if needed, in November. CUOMO ASKS FOR OFFSHORE DRILLING EXEMPTION WITH HELP FROM AL GORE

In addition to announcing the renewable energy project selections, Cuomoformally requested an exclusion from the five-year National OuterContinental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program proposed by the Trumpadministration.

In January 2018, the federal government introduced its offshore drillingplan, which proposes to make over 90% of the total US offshore acreageopen to oil and gas drilling. The plan would open two North AtlanticCoast areas adjacent to New York for fossil fuel exploration. Anexclusion from the offshore drilling program was granted to Floridashortly after its launch on the grounds that the Sunshine State heavilyrelies on tourism as one of the nation's top ocean economies.

New York State "strongly opposes" the Department of the Interior'soffshore leasing program as it "poses an unacceptable threat to NewYork's ocean resources, to our economy and to the future of ourchildren," according to the statement.

"His [Governor Cuomo's] vision and leadership stand in stark contrast tothe Trump administration's malignant mission to make us even moredependent on the dirty and destructive fossil fuels," former US VicePresident Al Gore said.

In his comments, Gore said coal is receding and gas is being "outcompetedin the marketplace by electricity from renewables." Many are predictingthat by the end of 2018, electricity from solar is going to be onecent/kWh, which is "like a quarter of the cost of electricity fromburning fossil fuels," Gore said. INDEPENDENT POWER PRODUCERS PLEASED WITH THE OUTCOME

"The proof is in the pudding: competition brings out the best indevelopers," Gavin Donohue, president and CEO of trade group IndependentPower Producers of New York, said in an email.

"If there were any questions about the effectiveness of fixed-price RECcontracts, today those questions were answered. Competition leads toinnovation, which ultimately leads to wins for New Yorkers at lowestcost," he said. -- Jared Anderson, jared.anderson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Rocco Canonica, newsdesk@spglobal.com