Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed the project award recipients for the New York Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) most recent renewable energy request for proposals (RFP).
In total, 21 large-scale solar, wind, and energy storage projects were awarded across upstate New York, totaling 1,278 MW in new capacity. Solar specifically accounted for 17 of the projects, representing 1,090 MW of the total capacity. The scale of solar awarded under this RFP is more solar than all but 14 states have installed thus far and represents a more than 50% increase in total capacity for New York.
“The weighted average award price for this solicitation is $18.59 for each Tier 1 REC over the 20-year term of the awarded contracts, the lowest average award price resulting from a Nyserda large scale renewables solicitation in over a decade,” said the authority.
pv magazine USA spoke with NYSERDA’s Vice President of Large Scale Renewables, Doreen Harris, to find out the work that goes into developing an RFP of this magnitude and how NYSERDA ensures that the right developers are bringing the right project to the right area.
This year’s awards come as the third entry in a list of annual NYSERDA land-based renewable procurements, each with the chief goal of bringing the state closer to Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal goal of obtaining 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
“What’s different under this program is that we’re really looking for large-scale renewables to compete against one another, within criteria the New York Public Service Commission established,” said Harris. “That’s 70% price, 10% viability, 10% economic benefits to New York and 10% operational flexibility and peak coincidence. Renewables are competing against one another and against that criteria.”
While early awards were given primarily to onshore wind projects, the state has seen a sharp spike in the viability of solar projects, hence the resource representing 80% of all project awards and 85% of all awarded capacity.
“In the years that we’ve been running these programs, we’ve seen a shift in the competitiveness of solar. This group of awarded projects is, in large part, solar, whereas five years ago, it would have been primarily wind… Much like any other state, you can see this shift becoming evident in things like the interconnection queues… The development community knows we [New York] are a big buyer. We’ve committed to the achievement of our goals, so they know the market is of sufficient scale and duration to invest.”
pv magazine noticed that American market newcomer Boralex, a large-scale renewable developer that previously operated in Europe and Canada, was awarded 180 MW in the company’s first foray into the American market, an occurrence that Harris believes New York is specially suited for.
“We see a lot of new market entrants, like Boralex, who are responding to the demand that we’ve established. We continually award much more than we are required to, in the way of contracts. All of this is codified in law now, through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, so [non-American developers] are looking at New York seriously.”
As if 1.3 GW wasn’t enough procurement for a year, NYSERDA is planning a quick solicitation turnaround, with the next large-scale renewable procurement issuance set for April 22.
EDIT 3/25/20: This article was edited to clarify that the weighted average award price of $18.59 was for each Tier 1 REC produced, rather than per megawatt hour of production. We apologize for the error.