100 new MW of photovoltaic power in New York State

Governor David A. Paterson announced an unprecedented clean energy project that will more than quintuple the amount of solar energy currently produced in New York State, and will foster the development of solar technologies, support public sustainability efforts and stimulate the economy with new clean energy jobs throughout the State.

“A sustainable future for New York requires bold initiatives which will increase the deployment of clean energy,” Governor Paterson said. “The New York Power Authority’s advancement of this, the largest solar initiative in State history, aligns with the State Energy Plan’s direction to increase in-State energy supplies. In doing so, this initiative will support growth in the clean energy industry and promote job creation, diversify our energy portfolio and support our energy independence.”

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a public-private partnership for the installation of up to 100 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) systems across the State, including roof-mounted and ground-mounted solar arrays. Facilities will be installed primarily at schools, public universities and colleges, State and local government facilities, municipal electric utilities and rural electric cooperatives. This initiative will boost the State’s growing solar industry, create clean energy jobs and support efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of State and local public facilities by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 45,000 tons per year. When fully installed, this project will be the largest solar initiative in State history and will generate the equivalent of powering approximately 15,000 homes.

President and Chief Executive Officer of NYPA Richard M. Kessel said: “Through this solar initiative, the New York Power Authority is working toward Governor Paterson’s ‘45 by 15’ goal and helping to build the solar industry in New York State. This initiative will advance the development of the solar industry and clean energy jobs throughout the State, and will help diversify our energy sources and incorporate green power educational opportunities for our schools.”

In addition to providing clean power to host facilities, the initiative will include the development of large scale, “Community Solar” projects that will connect to the distribution systems of municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives. Community Solar projects utilize available space to generate power for electric distribution grids rather than a single host site. Renewable energy can then be transmitted to any loads connected to the grid. These large scale projects can reduce costs by providing relief for electric grids nearing their capacity and avoiding expensive facility upgrades.

The Power Authority is soliciting proposals from developers to install, own and operate PV arrays, and to sell all the energy and environmental attributes to NYPA subject to a 20-year power purchase agreement. NYPA will then enter into contracts with the project hosts, such as the school where the PV array is located, for the distribution of green power. Installation of the solar photovoltaic projects is expected to begin in 2010 and be completed by the end of 2014.

Specifically, the RFP calls for bids related to four separate categories and five separate regions. Bidders can submit proposals for one or more regions in one or more categories. The categories include: government facilities, including public colleges and universities; public and private K-12 schools; and parking lot canopies at any governmental, educational facilities and facilities in the municipal and rural cooperative territories. The regions are Western New York, Northern New York, Central New York, Southeast New York and New York City.

The deadline for RFP responses is April 22. Recommendations for an award are expected to be made at the September meeting of NYPA’s Board of Trustees.

A Proposers’ Conference will be held at NYPA offices in White Plains on March 2 where NYPA staff will provide an overview of key elements of the RFP and answer questions from interested parties. RFP documents and further details of the conference will be posted on NYPA’s website at www.nypa.gov/solar/100mw.

Governor Paterson’s ‘45 by 15’ program is one of the nation’s most aggressive energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. By 2015, New York State will receive 45 percent of its electricity through energy efficiency and clean renewable energy. It is conservatively estimated that this program will create 50,000 new jobs throughout the State.

In advancement of this bold plan, NYPA has installed or is undertaking projects to install nearly 50 PV systems throughout the State with a combined capacity of three megawatts. Just in the past few months alone, NYPA has initiated solar projects with the University at Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. This statewide 100 MW Solar Project will significantly enhance the Power Authority’s commitment to the advancement of the solar industry in New York State.

The following statements were provided in support of the solar energy project:

Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli said: “If New York – and for that matter the U.S. – is ever to make headway in reducing carbon dioxide output and achieve real energy independence, we must start by encouraging these strategic public-private partnerships. The cost of energy has risen dramatically in recent years in a rate not seen in decades. Given these circumstances, we can and must encourage energy efficiency and sustainability in our schools, municipal buildings and public universities such as SUNY College of Forestry. The photovoltaic systems that will result RFP process pave the way for New York to harness the most reliable and clean source of energy – from the sun. I will thank Governor Paterson and NYPA for setting a course for us to achieve our energy independence goals and rebuild our high technology economy.”

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said: “The Governor’s initiative to dramatically expand the production of solar power in New York State is good news for local governments and school districts, which will be eligible to host these projects. Providing new sources of renewable power to these public facilities will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. In addition, this program has the potential to jump start a new industry and provide much-needed new jobs in all the regions of the New York State.”

Chairman of NYPA Michael J Townsend said: “The future economy of this State and nation will prosper or decline based upon our level of commitment to advancing the development of green technologies and supporting energy independence. Under Governor Paterson’s leadership, the New York Power Authority continues to find bold ways to bolster the clean energy economy through initiatives such as this one that will greatly increase our access to clean power and be the catalyst for the expansion of the solar industry in New York State.”

Robert M. Simpson, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and Central New York, said: “Central Upstate New York’s strength’s in renewable energy are already well established, particularly in wind power and biomass fuels. This initiative will help us to keep up with the growth potential of the solar industry, further solidifying the region as a leader in sustainable energy technologies. I commend the Governor and the New York Power Authority for forging public-private partnerships that will spur innovation in the green energy field, strengthen our economy, and reduce New York’s carbon footprint.”

John Siciliani, Executive Director of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association, said: “Governor Paterson and NYPA should be applauded for this important project. In conjunction with a long-term solar vision for the State and further investments from other state agencies and initiatives, this project is sure to serve as an important catalyst in the growth of the New York solar energy industry – creating clean energy jobs and serving as a real engine for economic growth.”

Tom Key, Technical Executive at the Electric Power Research Institute, said: “The scale of NYPA’s initiative could enable New York distribution companies to better understand the future grid integration challenges of high penetration photovoltaic. This project will expand our knowledge base of what’s needed to integrate new technologies such as PV, and for designing a future electric grid that enable renewable energy, electric vehicles and other distributed energy technologies are deployed.”

Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “With the 100 MW solar announcement today, Governor Paterson and the New York Power Authority are providing real leadership in shaping a strong solar presence in NYS and combined with the efforts of NYSERDA, LIPA, and investor owned utilities, New York should be in a strong position to achieve 2,000 MW of solar electricity capacity by 2020. The result will be a cleaner environment, green jobs, improved reliability, reduced reliance on imported energy and a new clean industry for New York.”

Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), said: “The 100MW Solar Initiative shines as a gleaming example of how New York can fight climate change, build our local economy and create good jobs for New Yorkers. These large scale renewable energy projects are significant and meaningful game changers in leading New York into the 21st century. CCE commends Governor Paterson and NYPA CEO Richard Kessel for thinking outside the barrel and investing in clean, renewable solar power.”

Carol E. Murphy, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, said: “This project represents an important milestone for New York State’s renewable energy industry and its supply chain partners. We commend NYPA not only for its commitment to the environment and New York’s clean energy goals, but also for recognizing the major economic development potential of a thriving solar market. With public-private partnerships such as these, NYPA provides an excellent model for how to successfully drive development of our clean energy economy, and we look forward to seeing others follow suit and build upon our momentum.”

Shaun Chapman, East Coast Campaigns Director of the Vote Solar Initiative, said: “What does 100 MW of solar mean for New York? It means powering about 20,000 homes. It means a big leap towards Governor Paterson’s ‘45 by 15’ renewable energy goal. It means getting local workers back to work building a cleaner economy. It means tapping our homegrown solar resource to power New York communities. Keeping energy dollars at home and invested in a more sustainable future, rather than relying on volatile foreign energy sources. It means a new era of energy generation. We applaud the Governor and President and CEO Kessel for their leadership in ushering in this new era for energy in New York.”