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New York large-scale renewable energy program massively oversubscribed

A solar farm under construction in Punta Gorda, Florida, on April 22, 2016 where enough energy will be produced to power 21,000 homes.      
With deep pockets and an environmentalist's zeal, retired American football player Syd Kitson dreamed up a plan to build the United States' first solar-powered town on a vast swath of rural land in southwest Florida. Nearly a decade after he first purchased the 91,000 acres (37,000 hectares) known as Babcock Ranch, construction is bustling at what developers say will be the nation's first eco-friendly city, built from the ground up, with enough room for some 50,000 people.
 / AFP / Kerry SHERIDAN / TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY KERRY SHERIDAN-"Construction is bustling at Florida's first 'sustainable town"        (Photo credit should read KERRY SHERIDAN/AFP/Getty Images)

September 2017.

Lack of vision is not among the criticisms that have been made of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Governor Cuomo has not only raised the state’s renewable energy mandate to an aggressive 50% by 2030, but has also instigated the most aggressive redesign of the electric grid to date, the Reforming the Energy Vision process.

And despite the strong success in some regions of the block grants for solar in the NY Sun program, like many East Coast states the portion of electricity that New York gets from renewable energy remains depressingly low. New York met only 4.4% of its electricity demand with in-state non-hydro renewable energy in 2016 – roughly half the national average.

This is the inevitable consequence of arriving late to the renewable energy revolution, but New York is certainly making up for lost time. Yesterday Governor Cuomo’s Office announced that the state’s has received more than 200 bids for projects through a request for proposals in its large-scale renewable energy program, which it touts as the largest clean energy procurement by a state in U.S. history.

The state was seeking to procure 2.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually of electricity from renewable energy resources over the course of 10 years, representing $1.5 billion in new generation. This includes 1.5 TWh for the New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and 1 TWh for the New York Power Authority (NYPA).

However, the NYSERDA solicitation alone was more than six-times oversubscribed, with 88 proposals from 20 developers representing 4 GW of capacity 9.5 TWh of annual generation. NYPA also received 130 proposals from 51 developers, representing 9 GW of capacity.

Governor Cuomo’s office wasn’t able to say what portion of the bids were for wind versus solar projects. Qualifying bids will be evaluated on price, and proposals for prices are due on Thursday, September 28. A final decision will be made in November.

The 2.5 TWh under this solicitation will meet around 1.7% of New York’s raw electricity demand. This is a large amount of power for a single solicitation, however it will take far more than this to meet the state’s 50% by 2030 mandate for renewable energy, and New York will likely need to make full use of its programs for distributed renewable energy as well.

This comes as the latest developments the REV process has come under criticism, with solar advocates saying that there was not adequate opportunities to evaluate utility proposals for the implementation of the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) guidelines.

Today’s Wind and Solar Can Lead to a Safer Climate Tomorrow


September 2017.



Experts agree that staving off the worst impacts of climate change will require the United States and other nations to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80 percent (from 1990 levels) by the middle of the century. The extreme weather dominating the news this fall make it more clear than ever that we need to get this done. But what is the best way to make the deep carbon cuts we need? Renewable energy needs to play a major role.

New, comprehensive modeling by NRDC and Energy + Environmental Economics (E3) outlines a cost-effective pathway to a climate-safe future that relies on today’s proven clean energy solutions. The big news here is not just that we can do it. It’s how—with a bold and rapid expansion of energy efficiency, renewable energy and the electrification of vehicles and buildings with clean power, all supported by a modernized grid. We don’t need to wait for new breakthroughs, and we don’t need to rely on risky or costly strategies like nuclear power, biomass, and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

What we do need is to keep pushing forward—hard—on existing clean energy solutions. On the renewable energy front alone, we need 70 percent of U.S. electricity to come from wind and solar power.

This blog focuses on what we need to do under this climate pathway on the renewable energy front—we will need at least 13-fold increase in wind and solar by 2050, alone, to achieve this vision. That might sound ambitious, but given the dizzying pace of renewable energy development, it’s definitely within reach, and it represents less than 1 percent of our solar potential and less than 10 percent of our wind. U.S. wind and solar have grown 23 percent and 60 percent, respectively, over the past decade. Their growth accounts for more than half of all the new power added to our electric system. And according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, this rapid expansion of renewable energy is a long-term trend.

The sun may set, but the savings are rising

Steep price declines have played a major role in this growth and will continue to do so. The cost of solar PV (generation from photovoltaic panels) has declined by almost 85 percent in less than a decade. Analysts expect solar to become the lowest-cost form of new power in the United States by 2023–even after federal tax credits expire—and to be less expensive than existing fossil generation by 2027 across the country. In some parts of the country, solar is already cheaper than fossil fuel energy.

At the same time that solar prices have been plummeting, the average price for electricity from wind (bought through what are known as long-term power purchase agreements of PPAs) have dropped more than 70 percent, from $70 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in 2009 to less than $20/MWh in 2016, according to the Department of Energy. That’s at the bottom end of the average for wholesale power, which ranged from $20 to $45/MWh in 2016depending on the region, and it means lower utility bills and cleaner air for consumers, too.

New York attracts strong interest from clean-energy developers


September 2017.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced that more than 200 proposals were received from large-scale, clean energy project developers in response to two requests for proposals that will add historic amounts of renewable energy to New York’s power supply.

wind and solsr project

Governor Cuomo announced an unprecedented investment of up to $1.5 billion in major renewable energy projects in June, including wind and solar. The strong response from large-scale, clean energy companies supports the first phase of the Governor’s Clean Climate Careers initiative.

The state expects to invest up to $1.5 billion in new clean energy projects through the two RFPs, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York Power Authority. The investments will advance the Governor’s ambitious goal to get 50% of New York’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

“New York is leading the nation in advancing clean energy projects to support our promise to achieve half of all electricity from renewables by 2030,” Governor Cuomo said. “Renewable energy is the way of the future and by working with the private sector, this state is capitalizing on business diversity and creativity, while securing investments for real results to combat climate change and build a cleaner, greener New York for all.”

Both solicitations yielded creative proposals to use large-scale wind, solar, hydroelectric, or biomass renewable energy generation technologies to support the Governor’s Clean Energy Standard.

NYSERDA received 88 proposals from 30 clean energy developers and NYPA received more than 130 proposals from 51 clean energy developers in response to the requests for proposals. A number of development companies submitted proposals for both RFPs.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy initiatives — Reforming the Energy Vision and the Clean Energy Standard — clean energy developers are answering the call to do business in New York State,” said Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance, New York State. “We are excited to see such a positive response to our request for clean energy projects and look forward to making these projects become a reality, benefiting all New Yorkers with cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy.”

The solicitations together are seeking to procure 2.5 million megawatt hours of electricity from renewable energy resources, representing the largest clean energy procurement by a state in U.S. history. In total, the projects submitted to NYSERDA represent more than four gigawatts of renewable capacity, and projects submitted to NYPA represent more than nine gigawatts of potential renewable energy supply for the state. This robust response provides both agencies the opportunity to select and procure the best and most cost-effective proposals for meeting the objectives of the Clean Energy Standard.

NYSERDA’s final bid proposals are due by September 28, with competitive selection and awards expected in November. NYPA received many proposals incorporating an innovative financing structure called a pre-paid power purchase agreement, which is designed to lower the financing cost — and costs to customers — for renewable projects. NYPA expects to complete contracts with winning developers in the first half of 2018.

Both the NYSERDA and NYPA solicitations will lead to the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs from development, construction and operation of clean energy projects through 2022.

“The pool of eligible bid facilities represents a pipeline of renewable energy projects that could generate more than 9.5 million megawatt hours per year, more than six times the quantity sought under the solicitation,” said NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton. “This robust developer interest in New York is exciting to see, and we expect that this level of competition will drive very attractive prices when the bids come in.”

Trade Decision Roils U.S. Solar Industry


September 2017.

Trade protection for U.S. solar panel makers could be a boon for the few domestic manufacturers left in the country, but a drag for the companies that install and sell solar systems to homeowners, businesses and utilities, which worry that it would lead to higher prices for consumers.

The U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday voted 4-0 to support trade barriers restricting solar panel imports. The decision came after two embattled panel makers, Suniva Inc. and SolarWorld Americas Inc., petitioned for a tariff on imported solar cells, the piece of equipment in a solar panel that converts sunlight into electricity.

The case divided the U.S. solar industry, with some panel makers arguing they needed protections against a flood of underpriced imports, and panel installers and others countering that a tariff would raise prices for American consumers, who bought more solar power arrays after cheap imports made them more affordable.

Both sides claim jobs are on the line.

Suniva and SolarWorld predict that trade protections would boost domestic manufacturing and force foreign competitors to open plants in the U.S., creating more than 100,000 jobs across the solar industry.

But the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group representing the majority of the solar industry that opposed the proposed tariff, forecasts that more expensive solar panels would hurt demand and cause the sector to shed 88,000 jobs nationwide.

Exactly how it all shakes out depends on what kind of trade protections, if any, the Trump administration enacts. The ITC will forward its recommendations to the White House by mid-November, and the Trump administration will then have two months to make a decision.

«We welcome this important step toward securing relief from a surge of imports that idled and shuttered dozens of factories, leaving thousands of workers without jobs,» said Juergen Stein, chief executive of SolarWorld Americas, an Oregon-based firm whose German parent filed for insolvency earlier this year.

Abigail Ross Hopper, chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said her group will continue to fight the tariff.

«Any remedy that hampers the growth of the solar industry is not one that we ever would support,» she said.

Some solar installers were dismayed, including Sunrun Inc., which called the ITC vote an «unfortunate decision.»

«If the Trade Commission recommends quotas or tariffs on solar cells and modules, they will be putting America’s 260,000 solar jobs — which cannot be exported or automated — in jeopardy,» said Sunrun co-founder Ed Fenster.

Tesla Inc., which owns solar installer SolarCity, said it remains committed to expanding its solar manufacturing capabilities in the U.S., with or without trade action.

Jeffrey Osborne, an analyst with Cowen, said he expects solar demand would take a hit if trade restrictions are enacted — though just how much of one depends on the details. Any tariff that raises solar panel prices above 50 cents a watt, he said, would put pressure on the entire market.

While foreign solar manufacturers have been talking about opening plants in the U.S. if the Trump administration imposed protections, Mr. Osborne said, he questioned how many would do so given that any trade action is likely to be challenged at the World Trade Organization.

It would take at least a year to build a plant, he added, and a few more to recoup that investment, especially given that higher labor and energy costs make it more expensive, by about 3 to 5 cents per watt, to make a solar cell in the U.S. than in Asia.

«I don’t think people are going to the drawing board tomorrow and start building a factory,» Mr. Osborne said.