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NYS Siting Approval of First Two Major Renewable Energy Facilities under New Regulations
Final Permits Are Fastest Siting Approvals of Major Renewable Energy Facilities in New York State
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting has issued final siting permits for its first two major solar facilities, Riverhead Solar 2, LLC and Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center, LLC. The siting approvals for these two facilities are the fastest in New York State's history, in line with the State's commitment to ensure that its nation-leading pipeline of large-scale renewable energy projects will be permitted in a timely and responsible manner. In addition, ORES continues to see a strong market interest in its new permitting process with a pipeline of 46 permit applications in various stages of review with several more anticipated throughout the rest of the year.
Riverhead is a 36-megawatt solar electric facility in the Town of Riverhead, Suffolk County. Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center is a 177-megawatt solar electric facility coupled with 83- megawatt battery energy storage in the Town of Mount Morris, Livingston County. Together, these solar facilities are expected to generate enough renewable energy to power more than 46,000 New York homes and reduce carbon emissions by over 208,000 metric tons annually, the equivalent of taking more than 41,000 cars off the road every year.
"As part of our aggressive clean and renewable energy goals, we're committed to protecting New York State from the effects of climate change and helping to ensure renewable energy sources can be built and distributed easily and efficiently," Governor Cuomo said. "New York has long been a national leader on climate change, and with the approval of these two projects, we are taking significant steps toward saving the environment and fostering new jobs and investment to bring our economy back better, stronger and greener from the COVID-19 pandemic."
Under the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, these approved solar facilities will help the state combat climate change and jumpstart its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the Act, New York State created the nation's first Office of Renewable Energy Siting to improve and streamline the process for environmentally responsible and cost-effective siting of large-scale renewable energy projects across New York while delivering health, environmental, and economic benefits to local communities. Today's announcement demonstrates swift progress under the state's recently expanded Clean Energy Standard and advances Governor Cuomo's goal to obtain 70 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030 as mandated in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
The Office's decisions follow a detailed review and robust public participation process to ensure that these solar facilities meet or exceed the requirements of Section 94-c of the Executive Law and its implementing regulations. These solar facilities and other major renewable energy facilities currently under Office review—as announced in Governor Cuomo's 2021 State of the State address—are vital to meet the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act's aggressive carbon reduction and clean energy targets to combat climate change.
ORES Acting Executive Director Houtan Moaveni said, "In keeping with Governor Cuomo's goal for a clean energy economy, today's decision demonstrates how New York State is working to more quickly advance development of major renewable energy facilities, while also ensuring the protection of the environment and consideration of all pertinent social, economic, and environmental factors in permitting of such facilities with input from local governments and host communities. We look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders as these facilities are constructed."
These projects will create over 430 temporary and full-time jobs and spur over $200 million in private investment to help stimulate the state's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Local taxing jurisdictions will receive over $20 million in payments in lieu of taxes and other funding over the life of the two projects. Riverhead Solar and Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center paid $213,000 in intervenor funds to enable municipal and community groups to fully participate in the review of the facilities.
NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "Under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the State is aggressively supporting the responsible and cost effective development of utility-scale renewable energy projects across the state in pursuit of obtaining 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030. We are pleased to see these projects meet this critical milestone and move closer towards completion in order to deliver critically important environmental and economic benefits to local New York communities."
New York State Department of Public Service CEO John B. Howard said, "With today's permitting decisions, ORES is helping deliver on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's nation-leading strategy for carbon reduction and a clean-energy economy. These two projects, and the many others following afterward, will benefit all New Yorkers by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, while boosting clean-energy investment, clean-energy jobs, and improving our environment."
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "By establishing the Office of Renewable Energy Siting, New York is advancing projects that will help achieve our state's ambitious climate change goals and realize our clean energy future. The Riverhead and Morris Ridge solar projects represent New York's national leadership and commitment to combat climate change by ramping up sustainable sources of renewable energy while growing the state's green economy. Solar electricity and battery storage technology are proven science-based solutions that will reduce harmful emissions while creating thousands of jobs putting New Yorkers to work protecting the planet."
New York State Senator Kevin Parker, Chair, Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee said, "I applaud The Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) for securing permits which will help to expand the State's access to solar energy. This is an impactful initiative that will help us reach our clear energy goals, while providing access to renewable energy to thousands of New Yorkers. I applaud Governor Cuomo for being proactive and look forward to the expansion of more solar facilities."
New York State Assembly Member Michael Cusick, Chair, Assembly Energy Committee said, "Today's announcement regarding the final permitting for the Riverhead Solar 2, LLC and the Morris Ridge Solar Energy Center, LLC solar electric and battery storage facilities marks the fastest large-scale renewable energy project siting in New York State history. These facilities, which have been strongly supported by the communities which will be housing them, will not only provide renewable energy for tens of thousands of homes but they will also play a crucial role as we continue to work towards achieving the goals of the CLCPA. Every renewable energy project across our state brings us one step closer to meeting our goals and creating the clean energy grid of the future."
Today's decisions may be obtained by going to the Office's website at https://ores.ny.gov/permit applications.
New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan
Governor Cuomo's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $21 billion in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2019, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.
The Office of Renewable Energy Siting is the first-of-its-kind state agency dedicated solely to environmentally responsible and cost-effective siting of renewable energy facilities and was established by the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act in April 2020. The Office consolidates the environmental review and permitting of major renewable energy facilities to ensure that siting decisions are predictable, responsible, and done in a timely manner with input from local governments and host communities. On March 3, 2021, the Office adopted comprehensive regulations including a set of uniform standards and conditions to implement the Act. The Office is designed to enable New York to obtain 70 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030, as required under Governor Andrew Cuomo's nation-leading climate plan, enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. For more information on ORES, please visit www.ores.ny.gov.