Green Local 175 News

$52.5 Million Available for Community Solar Projects that Support Underserved New Yorkers

Expected to Provide Energy Bill Savings to Up to 50,000 Households, Affordable Housing Providers, and Facilities Serving Disadvantaged Communities

July 20, 2021

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the Inclusive Community Solar Adder program that makes $52.5

million available for community solar projects that support underserved New Yorkers and disadvantaged communities. Projects

funded through the program are expected to serve up to 50,000 low-to-moderate income households, affordable housing

providers, and facilities serving disadvantaged communities, which will receive energy bill savings from the clean, renewable

energy generated by community solar. Increasing access to solar energy for low-income residents supports Governor Cuomo's

goal to ensure that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments go to disadvantaged

communities as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

"This administration is committed to expanding access to solar energy to all New Yorkers as we work to ensure an equitable and

just transition to a green economy," Governor Cuomo said. "This program will provide the necessary support to bring forward

solar projects in communities that are historically underserved and can gain the most from the health and environmental benefits

and cost-savings."

"Low-income communities face the greatest threats from climate change, and New York State is committed to investing in

projects and resources that ensure a cleaner, greener future for all generations," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The

Inclusive Community Solar Adder program will increase access to community solar, providing energy bill savings for

individuals living in and organizations based in these communities disproportionately impacted by climate change."

The Inclusive Community Solar Adder program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development

Authority, provides an additional incentive for NY-Sun community solar projects that dedicate at least 20 percent of their project

to eligible low-to-moderate income households and disadvantaged communities. The program adder will increase access to

community solar, help customers save at least 10 percent on their electric bills, and reduce operating costs for affordable housing

and nonprofits serving disadvantaged communities. Bonus incentives will be awarded for projects sited in environmental justice

communities burdened by conventional power generating facilities.

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "As we build a more resilient grid, it's of critical importance that we

remove barriers and scale up access to clean, renewable energy resources for all New Yorkers. NYSERDA's Inclusive

Community Solar Adder program is unique in that it takes a two-pronged approach to increasing access to solar energy and cost

savings by serving both families and affordable housing providers who support residents in disadvantaged communities."

The program design was informed by a Request for Information issued by NYSERDA in December 2020, and by stakeholders

who participated in a March 2021 webinar hosted by NYSERDA.

Community solar projects increase access to solar for homeowners and renters who may not have ideal conditions to directly

install solar panels onsite. Through community solar arrangements, energy is still delivered by a customer's regular electric

provider, and the power produced from the community solar array is fed directly back to the electric grid. As the grid is supplied

with clean, renewable energy, subscribers receive credit on their electric bills for their portion of the community solar system. In

2020, New York was named the nation's leading community solar market.

New York Solar Energy Industries Association Executive Director Shyam Mehta said, "The Inclusive Community Solar

Adder program will be a critical mechanism in expanding Community Solar's many benefits to low-and-moderate income and

environmental justice communities and addressing crucial equity, access, and inclusion considerations related to the achievement

of New York's CLCPA goals and our transition to a fully decarbonized electricity sector. NYSEIA and its members appreciate

the hard work, robust stakeholder process, and thoughtful program design pertaining to the ICSA, and are excited to participate

in this program as it is rolled out across the state."

Solar Energy Industries Association Senior Director of State Policy, East, David Gahl said, "The Inclusive Community

Solar Adder program will offer tangible benefits to low-income customers around the state, encourage the long-term

development of community solar, and bring the benefits of solar energy to tens of thousands of New Yorkers. SEIA and our

members look forward to working with NYSERDA and state leaders to help make this effort a success."

Coalition for Community Solar Access Northeast Regional Director Kaitlin Kelly O'Neill said, "The launch of the Inclusive

Community Solar Adder program is a big step towards expanding the cost-savings and clean energy benefits of New York's

community solar program to low- and moderate-income residents. We are excited to see the hard work and commitment of

NYSERDA resulting in a dedicated resource that further expands the accessibility of community solar projects for all the state's

energy consumers."

Since 2011, Governor Cuomo's NY-Sun initiative, which provides incentives to support the growth of the solar industry,

committed $30 million for projects directly benefiting environmental justice and disadvantaged communities. In addition to

more than three gigawatts of distributed solar installed statewide, there is another 2.7 gigawatts of solar that have been awarded

NY-Sun incentives. These projects are now under development, most of which will come online in the next two years, with

enough capacity to power an additional 477,000 homes. Together, these projects will bring New York State to 95 percent of the

six-gigawatt target mandated in the Climate Act. Currently, over 90 percent of the pipeline is community solar, including more

than 800 community solar projects under development that will expand access to more New Yorkers including low-to-moderate

income households.

In addition to the new Inclusive Community Solar Adder program, NY-Sun provides increased access to community solar

projects for disadvantaged communities through its Solar For All initiative. The no-cost program currently has nearly 4,000

subscribers and is open to residents of New York State that have a household income below 60 percent of the state median

income. Additionally, NY-Sun's Affordable Solar program provides additional incentives to help low-to-moderate income

customers install their own solar project. More than 750 individual projects have been supported through the Affordable Solar

program to date.