New York is in a solar state of mind. On the heels of the recent announcement to commit an additional $1 billion to New York solar incentives over the next decade, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) unveiled the next anticipated funding program for large solar systems, over 200 kW in size. This round of funding closely resembles previous offerings, and does not appear to be part of the “megawatt block” structure highlighted in the April announcement. PON 2956 (short for Program Opportunity Notice) went live this week, promising $60 million in available incentives or more, to be awarded at NYSERDA’s discretion. Applications are due July 17th, 2014 and all systems must come online by April of 2016.
Changes from Previous NYSERDA Large Solar Incentives
Unlike past PONs for large projects, all New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) load zones are in play. Several favorable tweaks to this year’s program, compared to earlier New York solar incentive rounds like PON 2860 and 2589 in the past, indicate a willingness on NYSERDA’s part to see this program drive more project development this year than ever before. In previous PONs for large projects, awardees received the full incentive amount in five payments — 30 percent at project completion paid out in two upfront installments, and 70 percent paid out as a PBI split between the first three years of production. PON 2956 will see that 30 percent upfront payment occur in one installment instead of two, and the remaining 70 percent condensed to only two years’ worth of production, paid at year’s end. The incentive for any project cannot exceed 50 percent of project installed costs.
Opportunities for Renewable Energy Storage and Efficiency
This program also incorporates several tie-ins to storage and efficiency for applicable solar projects, echoing the New York State Public Service Commission’s recent landmark initiative rethinking New York’s energy future. An additional $50,000 in incentives may be awarded to each project that integrates energy efficiency or storage at the customer site. Energy efficiency projects must reduce energy use intensity (kBtu/sq ft/year) by at least 15 percent over the baseline energy use intensity. Storage projects must provide at minimum 250 kW of load management, demand management, or improved load factor. Finally, projects located in Strategic Locations (determined by each individual utility) will receive an additional 25 percent above the Project Incentive. Especially for smaller systems, these incentives support the integration of multiple technologies aimed at boosting renewable energy generation and improving grid function in NYISO.
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