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Renewable Energy Microgrids Can Tap into $1.5B from New York RFPs

Workers install solar panels near Poughkeepsie, NY

New York plans to make up to $1.5 billion available for green energy, opening up another funding source for renewable energy microgrids in the state.

Announced late last week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the pot of money will create the largest renewable energy procurement to date by the state.

To show the scale of the endeavor, the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) estimated that the funding may result in 600 and 1,600 MW of new solar, wind, fuel cells, hydro and other clean energy resources. By comparison, the state’s previous renewable energy solicitation produced only 260 MW.

The funding is not designated for microgrids per se, but is open to a wide range of renewable energy projects. By nature of their size, utility-scale projects are likely to garner the bulk of the funding.

Two state organizations are managing the solicitations: the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA). NYSERDA seeks 1.5 million MWh of its Tier 1 renewable energy credits (RECs); NYPA plans to procure an additional 1 million MWh.

NYSERDA is offering the funding in a two-step process. First it will qualify projects through applications due July 13. NYSERDA will then notify those that qualify by August 22 and invite them to submit proposals. Winners will receive long-term contracts for purchase of their RECS by the state.

Projects bidding in the NYSERDA solicitation can include energy storage. But the storage must be colocated with renewables behind a single wholesale or retail meter, or with separate sub-meters for the storage and generation. The energy storage system may charge from the renewable resource, but not from the grid.

In a news release, ACE NY noted that the solicitations will choose projects largely based on price, “so that New York can strike the best deal for electricity customers. But other factors will be considered too, such as technology diversity, local economic benefits, or a project’s ability to produce power at times of peak demand.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo tied the New York solicitations in with President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement.

“As the federal government abdicates its responsibility to address climate change — at the expense of our environment and economy — New York is leading the nation in advancing a clean energy future,” Cuomo said. “The Clean Climate Careers initiative is a groundbreaking investment, representing the largest state clean energy procurement in U.S. history. With this $1.8 billion initiative, New York continues to tackle the challenges of climate change and create the high-quality, good-paying careers of tomorrow.”

New York’s primary source of funding for microgrids comes through a separate program, the $40 million NY Prize, which is also administered by NYSERDA.

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