New York large-scale renewable energy program massively oversubscribed

Lack of vision is not among the criticisms that have been made of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Governor Cuomo has not only raised the state’s renewable energy mandate to an aggressive 50% by 2030, but has also instigated the most aggressive redesign of the electric grid to date, the Reforming the Energy Vision process.

And despite the strong success in some regions of the block grants for solar in the NY Sun program, like many East Coast states the portion of electricity that New York gets from renewable energy remains depressingly low. New York met only 4.4% of its electricity demand with in-state non-hydro renewable energy in 2016 – roughly half the national average.

This is the inevitable consequence of arriving late to the renewable energy revolution, but New York is certainly making up for lost time. Yesterday Governor Cuomo’s Office announced that the state’s has received more than 200 bids for projects through a request for proposals in its large-scale renewable energy program, which it touts as the largest clean energy procurement by a state in U.S. history.

The state was seeking to procure 2.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually of electricity from renewable energy resources over the course of 10 years, representing $1.5 billion in new generation. This includes 1.5 TWh for the New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and 1 TWh for the New York Power Authority (NYPA).

However, the NYSERDA solicitation alone was more than six-times oversubscribed, with 88 proposals from 20 developers representing 4 GW of capacity 9.5 TWh of annual generation. NYPA also received 130 proposals from 51 developers, representing 9 GW of capacity.

Governor Cuomo’s office wasn’t able to say what portion of the bids were for wind versus solar projects. Qualifying bids will be evaluated on price, and proposals for prices are due on Thursday, September 28. A final decision will be made in November.

The 2.5 TWh under this solicitation will meet around 1.7% of New York’s raw electricity demand. This is a large amount of power for a single solicitation, however it will take far more than this to meet the state’s 50% by 2030 mandate for renewable energy, and New York will likely need to make full use of its programs for distributed renewable energy as well.

This comes as the latest developments the REV process has come under criticism, with solar advocates saying that there was not adequate opportunities to evaluate utility proposals for the implementation of the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) guidelines.