New York approves Community Distributed Generation Program

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the approval of a community shared renewables program, which seeks to enable renewable ownership by customers unable to install on-site distribution generation because they rent their home, live in an apartment building, or own properties unsuitable for installing solar panels or other clean energy technologies.

Office of the New York State Governor
Contact: New York Press Office

Governor Cuomo announced the approval of a bold new community initiative enabling millions of New Yorkers to access clean and affordable energy for the first time. Proposed in Governor Cuomo’s 2015 State of Opportunity Agenda, Shared Renewables provides opportunities for renters, homeowners, low-income residents, schools and businesses to join together to set up shared renewable energy projects resulting in healthier and stronger communities.

“The Shared Renewables initiative will help people and communities across the state save money on local clean energy projects,” Governor Cuomo said. “This program is about protecting the environment and ensuring that all New Yorkers, regardless of their zip code or income, have the opportunity to access clean and affordable power. Together, we will build a cleaner and greener New York.”

Renewable resources are already providing massive economic and environmental benefits across the state, with installed solar capacity having grown 300% between 2011 and 2014. Yet, many New Yorkers are still unable to participate because they rent their home, live in an apartment building, or own properties unsuitable for installing solar panels or other clean energy technologies.

Under the Shared Renewables initiative (also referred to as community distributed generation), customers can join together to share in the benefits of local solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects. Each individual member’s production would appear as a credit on their monthly utility bill. The first phase of Shared Renewables will focus on promoting low-income customer participation and installations in areas of the power grid that can benefit most from local power production.

“Democratizing the production of power allows individuals and communities to take control of their energy future and realize the economic, social, and environmental benefits of solar and other renewable resources,” said Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York. “As a direct result of Governor Cuomo’s leadership and the Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, New York State is once again at the forefront of progressive energy policy by empowering millions of our residents, schools, and businesses to choose renewable power for the first time.”

Governor Cuomo’s REV initiative takes a proactive approach to meet the challenges facing today’s power sector by building a regulatory framework to modernize the utility industry to create greater value for customers and support new investment in clean energy.

Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman said, “Under Governor Cuomo’s REV initiative, Shared Renewables expands consumer access to reliable, low-cost electricity generated from renewable energy facilities. Shared Renewables places customers who do not own homes on an equal footing with traditional single-home customers and creates opportunities for low- and moderate-income families who don’t have access to electricity generated from renewable resources.”

During the first phase of Shared Renewables from October 19, 2015 through April 30, 2016, projects will be limited to those that advance one of two specific REV goals: siting distributed generation in areas where it can provide the greatest locational benefits to the larger power grid, or supporting economically distressed communities by ensuring at least 20 percent of the participants are low- and moderate-income customers.

Beginning May 1, 2016, a second phase will make shared renewable projects available throughout entire utility service territories.

In addition, other REV principles can be applied, such as aligning utility incentives to fully support Shared Renewables projects by allowing shared savings or revenues from new business models that facilitate projects at lower costs. In addition to these changes, the Public Service Commission will immediately commence a collaborative to determine how to continue the encouragement of low-income customer participation in community distributed generation during the second phase.

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