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Hydropower is one of the oldest renewable technologies, representing approximately 6 percent of the total energy generation and about half of all available renewable energy capacity in the U.S. The idea behind the process is based on either flowing or falling water. The generated flow controls turbines that in turn produce electricity.
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The New York Power Authority announced yesterday that they will be expanding the K-Solar Initiative, which assists New York school districts in installing solar systems. The program will add two new solar developers and already has 25 districts with signed power purchase agreements and 380 districts interested in participating. The increased support from NYPA highlights the opportunity and growth for solar within the education sector, as seen in other large solar markets. 
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NY-Sun is a bold initiative that is driving New York’s solar industry and building momentum toward a sustainable, subsidy-free market by 2023. Through a comprehensive approach that offers incentives, reduces industry barriers, and addresses soft costs, NY-Sun has helped lead to a dramatic uptake in solar capacity, while reducing costs. More than 18,000 solar projects were installed across New York in 2015, increasing the State’s solar capacity by nearly 202 megawatts (MW) to 568 MW (see Table 1). Looking forward, projects already in the initiative’s pipeline will more than double the total amount of current capacity. NY-Sun aims to install 3 gigawatts of solar by 2023, while building a self-sustaining solar industry. A Multi-Faceted Approach NY-Sun is a comprehensive initiative established by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2012 to develop a sustainable and subsidy-free solar industry in New York State. It consists of numerous components administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), in collaboration with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). The components of NY-Sun include a photovoltaic (PV) incentive initiative, consumer education, a community solar joint purchasing initiative, an initiative to add solar to schools (K-Solar), a program to improve access to PV by low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, a Shared Solar initiative that enables residences to buy into a solar project, solar workforce trainings, and soft cost reductions associated with customer acquisition and installation. In 2014, NY-Sun was expanded into a $1 billion initiative featuring the “Megawatt Block” incentive structure, which adjusts incentive rates based on market activity in each sector and geographic region. NY-Sun stands apart from other initiatives in that it is not just an incentive initiative, but rather a multi-faceted roadmap for creating a self-sustaining solar industry. Declining Block Incentives The design of the Megawatt Block incentive structure reduces the available incentives by set increments as the solar market reaches pre-determined capacity targets. This structure allows solar customers to clearly see available incentives, and it gives the solar industry the transparency and certainty needed to forecast project economics and to attract investment. Real-time information on incentive levels and block capacity is available online. The program design divides the state by region and by market sector, allowing different parts of the market to accelerate over time at their own pace. As incentives decline, NY-Sun has more impact per dollar spent. In 2014, NY-Sun awarded more than $95 million in solar incentives, and had 121 MW of PV installed (effectively $0.79/watt). Last year, it awarded more than $125 million in incentives and saw 202 MW of PV installations (effectively $0.62/watt). Solar Accessible to All Affordable Solar, a component of NY-Sun launched in 2015, expands access to solar energy to LMI households. It doubles the per-watt incentive provided by NY-Sun for solar on owner-occupied residences of LMI households. NYSERDA also launched a financing pilot program using low-interest Green Jobs-Green NY financing to prepay solar leases for LMI solar customers. NY-Sun support for LMI customers participating in Shared Solar projects will be introduced in 2016, which will enable residents to buy into or purchase shares of solar projects so they can receive bill savings without putting solar on their roofs. Soft Cost Strategies NY-Sun is reducing soft costs in a variety of ways, including promoting customer aggregation, training, and streamlining. A statewide Solarize program helps homes and businesses use group purchasing to secure low prices and simplify the contracting process through aggregated demand. The K-Solar initiative provides technical assistance and an aggregated solar procurement process to public schools throughout the State. As with other aspects of NY-Sun, K-Solar relies on a high level of collaboration across New York State agencies. It was implemented in partnership with NYPA and the State Education Department. NY-Sun has given considerable attention to municipal governments, because New York is a “home rule” state that relies on municipal governments to implement solar-friendly building, zoning, and taxation policies. NY-Sun’s PV Trainers Network provides technical training, general education, and tools to local officials involved in policymaking, purchasing decisions/negotiations, permitting, system inspections, and emergency response. In its first year, the network completed 100 trainings, reaching over 3,000 local officials. NY-Sun has also streamlined its internal processes and program requirements to eliminate unnecessary documents, reduce unnecessary document reviews, and expedite the process through which incentives are awarded to projects. Program Highlights By combining incentives with soft cost reduction, customer aggregation, targeted financing (especially for the LMI market), and training for stake-holders, NY-Sun is a comprehensive initiative to develop a sustainable and subsidy-free solar industry in New York State. Growth in the New York solar market significantly outpaced national growth in 2014 and 2015. The total number of solar installations in New York State increased by 62 percent in 2015. With 438 solar contractors participating in NY-Sun, projects currently in the pipeline will more than double the total amount of New York’s current solar capacity.  The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) will be hosting a webinar highlighting NY-Sun on Tuesday, July 26 at 2pm ET. Guest speakers from NYSERDA will present. For more information on this free webinar and to register, see http://cesa.org/webinars/state-leadership-in-clean-energy-award-winning-programs-in-california-and-new-york/. *** This blog post was originally published in CESA’s report on the 2016 State Leadership in Clean Energy (SLICE) Awards. NYSERDA’s NY-Sun program was one of six state and municipal programs and projects recognized with a 2016 SLICE Award for leadership, effectiveness and innovation in advancing renewable energy and other clean energy technologies. Winners were chosen by an independent panel of five distinguished judges. Read more about the 2016 SLICE award-winners at http://cesa.org/projects/state-leadership-in-clean-energy/2016/.
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When Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast in 2012, New York City learned the hard way that backup generators don’t always add up to resiliency. Despite deploying over 200 generators, 80,000 New York City public housing residents found themselves in the dark in the wake of Sandy, along with several major hospitals where emergency generators failed. New findings from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and City University of New York (CUNY) provide more evidence that there may be a better, cleaner, and more economical way to protect residents when the next disaster strikes – solar+storage. As part of the New York Solar Smart DG Hub-Resilient Solar Project, which is supported by the Department of Energy, NREL and CUNY released a new report analyzing the economics of resilient solar+storage for critical New York facilities, Economic and Resiliency Impact of PV and Storage on New York Critical Infrastructure. The report concludes that solar+storage delivers a higher return on investment than solar PV alone for the facilities evaluated and that resilient solar+storage and hybrid solar+storage+generator systems can be economically viable, offering a better return than relying on generators alone. The analysis used NREL’s REopt modeling platform to analyze the technical and economic feasibility of solar and storage technologies for three critical facilities: a school serving as a coastal storm shelter, a fire station that flooded during Sandy, and a senior center that serves as a cooling hub during heatwaves. In addition to modeling optimal system sizing, the study explored economic optimization with a value assigned to the resiliency benefits the system could provide – essentially modeling an additional value stream that reflects the avoided cost of a power outage. All of the facilities analyzed are served by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), which has very low electricity rates (averaging less than five cents per kilowatt-hour). Because of this, and the fact that two of the sites have limited space for PV placement, solar alone wasn’t found to be a particularly good investment. However, resilient solar+storage systems were able to deliver a positive return on investment for each of the facilities evaluated, even without factoring in the added value of resiliency. This was primarily due to the ability of energy storage to reduce peak demand charges, which are quite high in NYPA. In fact, storage improved the economics of PV in every case (a scenario also found to be true in California affordable housing). While the economic picture for these systems was positive, the study found that solar+storage systems optimized for savings alone were not typically large enough to support critical emergency loads for more than a few hours. However, that doesn’t mean that longer duration solar+storage systems can’t be economic as well. Analysis of the school found that a solar+storage system designed to power the facility’s storm shelter through an average short-term outage of about seven hours could deliver a positive economic return over its lifetime. When the value of resiliency was factored in, the fire station was found to achieve a positive return for optimal solar+storage system designs capable of providing both short- and long-term resilient power solutions. For hybrid systems incorporating solar and storage with traditional generators, the economics of resiliency look even more promising. Based on the results of the analysis, hybrid systems offer a more cost-effective approach to resiliency than the stand-alone generators currently serving the majority of New York City’s emergency power needs. While just putting a generator in a building comes with a low upfront cost, the study found that over time generators have higher lifecycle costs than hybrid systems. In addition to lowering energy costs during normal operation, using solar+storage in a hybrid system allowed for a reduction in both the size of the generator needed to sustain critical loads during an outage and the volume of fuel that must be stored onsite. Optimal generators in a hybrid system could be sized as small as a third of the size required for a generator working alone. Fuel consumption was also reduced in every case, with reductions ranging from about 10 percent to almost 40 percent. Though the report was limited in scope to only three facilities, the authors note that the same types of power systems should be economically viable for all city infrastructure with similar electricity demand profiles and utility rate structures. This is important for New York City, which has pledged to install 100 megawatts of solar on city-owned buildings by 2025 through its One City: Built to Last initiative. In cases where solar alone may not be cost-effective, the addition of storage may enable an integrated system to become a favorable investment, while also diversifying the city’s resiliency options. Unlike the city-owned facilities modeled in this study, most commercial buildings in New York City are served by the utility Con Edison. These buildings are likely to face lower demand charges and higher energy prices, about twice the rate of those in NYPA. The authors note that this may result in optimal systems that rely more on solar and less on storage, which echoes the findings of Clean Energy Group’s report Resilience for Free: How Solar+Storage Could Protect Multifamily Affordable Housing from Power Outages at Little or No Net Cost. In that report, Clean Energy Group found that solar improved the economics of storage for multifamily affordable housing in New York City, allowing housing developers to install resilient solar+storage at no net cost over the lifetime of the system. As solar and storage prices continue their decline and utility rates and market structures evolve to favor distributed generation (a goal of New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision), the economics of resilient solar+storage will continue to improve for both NYPA and Con Edison customers. However, there will still be a lingering market gap in how to value the benefits of improved resiliency. The analysis by NREL and CUNY marks an import step forward in addressing this market failure, but a true valuation of resiliency will have to include all parties that bear the cost of power outages, from private companies to federal agencies. Failure to recognize and monetize the full benefits of reliable power will continue the persistent undervaluation of resilient power investments and hinder market development supporting resilient solar+storage technologies.
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According to the Federal Register, potential power is presently unutilized at the 800-kW East powerhouse and proposed 700-kW West powerhouse for the Potsdam hydroelectric project on the Raquette River in Lancaster County, New York. The proposed West powerhouse received a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission exemption from licensing in 1981.  
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This week New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the signing of an agreement between the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and State University of New York Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Polytechnic) that aims “to create a world-class facility devoted to energy technology innovation and the rapid deployment of smart-grid technology to modernize New York's electric grid.”