Teaching New York the real value of solar


Given the Cuomo Administration’s stated aim of continuing to grow the state’s solar market, the New York Public Service Commission made a mistake when it set the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER). In spring of this year, pv magazine reported that the state proclaimed that New York projects 100%+ solar market growth over 2017.

Chris Neidl, Director of Business Development for Brooklyn SolarWorks, taught us a bit more of reality:

VDER has had a devastating effect on solar development, with investment down 73% in the first quarter of 2018 versus 2017 based on total project costs of Solar Electric Programs reported by NYSERDA.

It seems the politicians at least partially agree. The New York Assembly recently passed A.10474, which will keep net metering in effect for customers subscribing to community solar installations through December 31, 2021. The bill is currently sitting in the Senate Rules Committee.

In light of these ongoing actions, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has filed a petition (.pdf download) to raise these rates, citing as its justification the damage that won’t occur due to generating clean electricity, versus burning fossils.

A summary of the the three arguments presented:

    1. Staff should calculate the Phase One E-Value based on 25 years of avoided SC: Currently the model ignores the value of avoided carbon emissions for 20% of a projects projected lifetimes, years 21-25. It is requested that these five years are included.
    2. Staff’s calculations should not double-discount the Phase One E-Value: The current manner of discounting values uses an old value that isn’t applicable in today’s market, additionally it doubly applies the cost of money by suggesting that a solar developer is paid 100% of the project’s revenue in year one, versus the reality that is money is paid out monthly over the contract’s 25-year terms. It is requested that a simple average of 25-year SCC values to determine a single, levelized price per kilowatt-hour, without further discounts applied.
    3. The corrected value from #2 should be applied to all projects that submitted the 25% deposit for interconnection after Jan 1, 2018 and before the state recognized the flawed value.

The document was filed along with Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Coalition for Community Solar Access, NRDC, NY SEIA, Vote Solar and the Pace Energy and Climate Center.

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