Cuomo Signs Historic Renewable Energy Bill Into Law

Posted by Betsy Lillian -July 19, 2019

A new law in New York will require the state to procure 6 GW of distributed solar by 2025, as well as require utilities to get 70% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, alongside former Vice President Al Gore, signed into law the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), what he calls the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation in the country.

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The Future is Electric

Posted on July 14, 2019 by Bruce Sullivan and Joe Emerson

If you’re trying to climb out of a hole, the first thing you need to do is stop digging. Our world is trying to climb out of the climate disruption hole being created by greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, we keep drilling, building pipelines, and connecting buildings to fossil fuels in the form of fracked methane, which has more global warming potential than coal. To avoid catastrophic climate disruption, it must stop – and soon.

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Solar Electricty For All!

Now, all residents of New York State can invest in generating electricity from solar power for their own use, even if solar cannot be installed at their place of residence!

Any resident can buy a portion of a group-built solar array. A New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) program named “Community Solar” is a new way to obtain electric power from the sun at your home, or for just about any grid-tied building. Now, solar-generated electricity can be obtained by everyone in New York who currently buys electricity from a utility. Even if you thought you can’t or wouldn’t install solar panels where you live, community-shared solar allows creation of a shared solar array with each individual member’s electricity production appearing as a credit on their monthly utility bill.

The shares of the facility can be combined from among renters, homeowners, schools, and businesses. Together, 10 or more members would co-locate solar panels as one facility, connect their solar-generated electricity to the utility grid, and receive credits on their utility bills proportional to their share of the solar array. No change of one’s home electric meter or wires occurs. Federal and New York State tax credits may apply to the owners of the shared array.

The community-shared solar array would be sized to generate the amount of electricity used annually, on average, by the combined membership. The project should be sized to generate the power needed by its members, not more, so any excess solar power generated but not used will be credited proportionally to members by their utility company according to the NY State Public Service Commission program named Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER). Community-shared solar need not be an entrepreneurial venture. Think of community-shared solar as a cooperative project with benefits shared equally among members.

More information and requirements of NYSERDA’s Community Solar program can be found at https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/NY-Sun/Solar-for-Your-Home/Community-Solar. Find Community Solar projects at https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/NY-Sun/Solar-for-Your-Home/Community-Solar/Community-Solar-Map.

At NYSERDA, Community Solar is also referred to as Community Distributed Generation. That’s because the term “distributed” confers important advantages of community-shared solar electricity generation to all electric utility customers. It’s recognized that our nation’s electric grid has vulnerabilities due to its large size and large area of interconnectedness. When a group of utility customers can share solar-powered electricity generation in a local area, the result is more efficient, decentralized power production. It improves health and energy for all residents in a community. For more information contact Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development, sasdonline@gmail.com. Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development web site is HERE.



Community Choice Aggregation

On Tuesday March 19, Mamakating became the first town in Sullivan County to enact a local law permitting Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), a program that has the potential to supply consumers with both lower electric rates and greener energy supplies. At the public hearing prior to the vote, Mike Gordon, principal architect of New York State’s first CCA in Westchester County, told the board that the 110,000 customers participating in the Westchester program have saved $17 million dollars over the past three years—or about 10% on the electric usage portion of their utility bills.

The bargaining power derived from a large customer base can enable CCAs to provide 100% renewable energy below the benchmark rate for so-called “brown” energy. This is what happened in Westchester. Twenty-five of the twenty-six participating municipalities now offer customers 100% green energy produced in New York State.

Mamakating Board Member Christine Saward, who is leading the effort to bring CCA to Mamakating, read a statement from state Senator Jen Metzger noting that legislation does not commit a town to set up a CCA, but “positions you to participate in a program if you so choose.” Metzger, a longtime proponent of CCA, went on to say, “our communities can benefit most from CCA if it supports local clean energy development, such as community renewable projects, which create local jobs and provide stable lower-cost energy, while helping mitigate climate change.” CCA she asserted, can be “a win-win-win for our communities and for New York.” 

As Mamakating moves forward it will need to decide whether it wishes to file its own plan with the Public Service Commission or to work with a professional administrator. Administrators are paid by the electric supply company that wins the municipal contract so no taxpayer money required to run a CCA program. 

For further information: Christine Saward at (845) 313-1772 or chrisnapdragon@frontiernet.net