New York Approves RPS Implementation Plan

The New York State Public Service Commission has approved a detailed Implementation Plan for the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard Program (RPS).

The plan is designed to assist in increasing the portion of electricity derived from renewable resources used by retail consumers in New York to at least 25 percent by the year 2013, and establishes many of the specific processes and protocols that the state will use to implement the RPS program. “Just seven months ago … we determined that a Renewable Portfolio Standard would be in the public interest, and adopted the broad policy framework for the state’s program,” said Public Service Commission Chairman William M. Flynn. “Now — thanks to the hard work of Department of Public Service (DPS) Staff, NYSERDA and numerous parties — we’ve laid out a detailed road map and specific protocols for increasing the use of renewable sources of generation to meet our growing demand for electricity.” There are two notable features of the plan, according to Flynn. First, is its recognition that flexibility on the part of the Commission and the continued involvement of interested parties is essential to keep the plan moving forward. Second is the findings of a Reliability Report, which was sponsored by the New York Independent System Operator and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), that concluded that a significant amount of wind generation can be integrated into the state’s electric grid with only minor changes to existing planning, operation and reliability practices. In adopting the RPS Program in September 2004, the Commission established two tiers of eligible renewable resources: a main tier consisting of medium-to-large scale electric generation facilities and a customer-sited tier consisting of smaller, on-site — or “behind the meter” — technologies. Renewable resources currently eligible to participate in the main tier of the RPS Program include wind, hydroelectric, biomass, biogas, liquefied biofuel, and ocean or tidal power facilities. Eligible resources in the customer-sited tier include fuels cells, solar photovoltaic and wind technologies. The Commission’s September 2004 Order also set annual incremental renewable energy targets for the years 2006-2013, required the use of financial incentives to encourage the development and operation of eligible renewable generation facilities, and directed the use of a non-by-passable wires surcharge to raise the revenue necessary to support to program. The plan also establishes a monitoring and evaluation program for NYSERDA’s administration of the RPS Program. The program will include year-end status reports that address, among other things, aggregated quantities of RPS Program energy generated and payments associated with the environmental attributes of that energy for both the main and customer-sited tiers, as well as progress in meeting the RPS Program annual targets. To inform consumers about the RPS Program, the Plan requires investor-owned electric utilities to develop a statewide consumer education program. The program will include an explanation of the expected benefits of the RPS Program, the billing and pricing impacts associated with renewable energy choices, and modifications to the state’s environmental disclosure label. While many of the specific protocols necessary for the implementation of the RPS Program have been identified in the Plan, some issues require further work. As part of the ongoing collaborative process, staff from DPS and NYSERDA will schedule several workshops to gather input and advice from interested parties. Among the issues to be discussed at these workshops is the type of procurement model and pricing structure that would be most appropriate for the next solicitation for renewable resources. Other workshops will be scheduled to address biomass eligibility issues, modifications of the environmental disclosure program, development of an automated certificate tracking system, and promotion of the green power market. Program details and administrative protocols addressed in the Implementation Plan include, but are not limited to: – The criteria and procedures to certify facilities as eligible to participate in the RPS Program, based on guidance provided in the September Order – The procedures to be used by NYSERDA for procuring RPS resources – The criteria and procedures to be used to establish RPS eligibility of certain existing facilities with financial hardships – The process to establish RPS eligibility for new and emerging technologies that were not included in the guidelines established in the September Order – Potential modifications to the existing Environmental Disclosure Program appropriate to accommodate the RPS Program – Development of a mechanism for allocation and disclosure of RPS Program renewable power to the retail customers paying the surcharge – Projected administrative, evaluation, and monitoring costs for the RPS Program The Commission has yet to issue a written order reflecting this week’s vote and providing specific details of the RPS Program Implementation Plan, but when the order is ready people can obtain a copy from the Commission’s Web site, which can be reached through the link below.
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