New York awards 647 MW of solar in 22 projects

On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced awards for over 1.38 GW of renewable energy projects, in speech at New York University accompanying a formal request for the state to be excluded from the wildly unpopular expansion of federal offshore drilling put forward by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

The projects include 22 solar utility-scale projects totaling 647 MW across the state of New York. These range in capacity from 1.5 to 100 MW, but the majority are a hair smaller than 20 MW.

And while the three massive wind projects represented more of the capacity awarded, that solar took so large a share of the solicitation was noted by the state, which declared that “that large-scale solar power is now economically viable across New York State for the first time”. Utility-scale solar is already the cheapest form of new electricity generation in California and the U.S. Southwest, but lower levels of sunlight in the Northeast translate to roughly 30% less electricity generated per watt of capacity, which affects the cost per unit of power.

But prices are still falling. While numbers were not disaggregated for wind and solar, the state estimates that the weighted price of these projects was less than $22 per megawatt-hour, making the projects cheaper than new gas generation. All told, the wind and solar projects together will represent $1.4 billion in investment by the state of New York, and will create an estimated 3,000 construction jobs.

The 26 projects were selected on a competitive basis out of 88 proposed by 30 developers. Granada Solar won the largest slice of the solar awards with seven projects totaling 140 MW, however California’ Cypress Creek Renewables was not far behind with six projects totaling 120 MW. National developers including NextEra, Invenergy and Calpine also won projects.

While the awards are located in eight of the state’s ten regions, more than 1/3 of the solar by capacity will be in the Capital Region, and more than 1/3 in the Mohawk Valley, weighting the projects heavily towards the east-central part of the state.

Several projects are expected to break ground as early as April 2018, and all will be operational by 2022.

The awards were commended by SEIA. “It is highly rewarding to see that the Empire State has made this groundbreaking investment in solar energy and we look forward to delivering on the promise that solar energy offers to New Yorkers,” reads a statement by SEIA President and CEO Abigail Hopper.