New York is Leading on Community Solar
New York State has become one of the country’s leading markets for community solar, and Standard Solar, along with its partners, is providing the expertise and financing needed to bring these types of projects to completion.
The state’s embrace of community solar is the result of its strong solar policies and support from its political leaders. The NY-Sun program, a component of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) plan, kick-started the growth of community solar in the state several years ago.
In 2018, New York increased the maximum size of community solar projects from 2 megawatts (MW) to 5 MW, lowering the costs for these types of projects.
The legislature and governor went a step further this year, adopting what some say are the most ambitious climate and clean energy targets in the country—New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The Act sets goals of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040 and economy-wide, net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. It also sets a goal of installing 6,000 MW of solar energy by 2025.
In supporting these initiatives, Governor Cuomo emphasized that “solar is a vital part of this state’s clean energy future,” and indeed, new projects are now popping up all over the state.
At Standard Solar, we’re pleased to contribute to this growth. In 2018 we acquired six projects in New York from U.S. Light Energy, a community solar development company, and currently have over 98.4 MW of community solar capacity in the state. The projects, located in two different utility territories across three different NYISO Load Zones, will provide cost-saving solar electricity to both residential and small commercial and agricultural subscribers.
“We are excited and grateful to be working with Standard Solar on these community solar projects here in our home state of New York,” said Mark Richardson, President and CEO of U.S. Light Energy. “Standard Solar’s financial strength, proven construction capabilities, and their position in the marketplace make them a perfect fit for us. We could not have asked for a better partner to work with on this community solar project portfolio.”
Partnerships like these, and our deep expertise in the industry, have allowed Standard Solar to bring megawatts of projects to life faster, bringing benefits to local communities quickly. The first of these projects is beginning operations now, including the Sugar Hill Solar Farm in Clifton Park, NY.
Standard Solar owns and operates the Sugar Hill project, the region’s first community solar farm, in partnership with U.S. Light Energy. The 7 MW, ground-mounted solar project encompasses nearly 20,000 solar modules and is expected to produce more than 8.6 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean energy annually—enough electricity to power up to 600 homes and businesses.
The solar farm is built on previously underutilized farmland, providing a new source of landowner revenue.
In praising the project, NY State Assembly member Patricia Fahy said the Sugar Hill Solar Farm “showcases the potential of clean energy in New York and will set an example for community solar projects throughout the state.”
Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “All across New York, residents and businesses continue to seek new ways to gain greater access to clean energy solutions like solar that deliver meaningful economic and environmental benefits.”
And just last week, along with U.S. Light Energy, we broke ground on another community solar project, a 7.2 MW ground-mount array in Denmark, NY. The project is expected to produce more than 8.9 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean energy annually—enough electricity to offset the CO2 emissions from 1,105 homes’ electricity use for one year and charging 808,017,523 smartphones.
Our partners at Common Energy subscribed (and will subscribe) these projects through local partnerships and outreach across the regions, connecting residents’ existing electricity accounts to the projects.
With several more projects in the pipeline, we’re excited to help New York meet its renewable goals.
And fortunately, New York isn’t alone in its embrace of community solar. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory says that community solar projects are now located in 40 states, plus Washington, D.C.
Individuals, businesses and farmers—regardless of their financial status—can benefit from solar energy without the need for their own solar panels through community solar, which allows a single array to be shared by a community that can subscribe to receive solar energy. Participants in community solar projects often save money on their electricity bills, providing low-income customers and renters an opportunity to go solar.