The ribbon cutting for DSD Renewables’ new 7.5MW community solar project in Schenectady County, New York was met with considerably more fanfare than a typical project of its capacity, as the state’s Lieutenant Governor, Brian Benjamin, used the opportunity to announce that the state has reached more than 1GW of community solar installed and operational.
That milestone supplants New York as the top community solar market in the United States, edging out incumbent Minnesota, which has installed 830MW of operational community solar capacity as of February 2022, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
“Reaching this nation-leading milestone – with more than one gigawatt of community solar installed – is a testament to New York’s aggressive pursuit of clean-energy alternatives that will supercharge our economy and bring us one step closer to a carbon-neutral future,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.
This community solar market dominance is only set to grow, as New York’s distributed solar pipeline is now comprised of more than 708 community solar installations, all in pursuit of achieving 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and the governor’s goal to achieve 10GW of solar by 2030. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie’s Solar Market Insight 2021 Year in Review report, New York is not only the national leader for installed community solar, but is installing new projects at more than double the rate of second-place Massachusetts.
Similarly impressive to the capacity of community solar installed in New York is the speed in which these projects have reached operation. Prior to 2018, New York saw relatively little activity in community solar development, according to installation data collected by SEIA.
Much of the community solar developed in the state has received benefits from the state’s NY-Sun program, a state solar incentive program for distributed generation assets. Since being launched in 2011, NY-Sun has put forth more than $1.8 billion to advance the scale-up of solar and move the State closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. Tangibly, this funding has supported:
- the installation of solar on the rooftop or property of 165,000 homes, spanning every county in New York
- over $1.3 billion in incentives, leveraging $6.1 billion in private investment
- over 2,500% solar growth in the State
- the delivery of enough clean, renewable energy to power over 627,000 New York homes
- 12,000 jobs in the solar industry
- driving down the cost of solar 70% in 10 years
- $30 million for projects benefiting environmental justice and disadvantaged communities
Not to be lost in the celebration, the 7.5MW community solar project in Schenectady that triggered the benchmark announcement is also notable for being a brownfield solar installation, located on the site of a former landfill in Glenville. The project also features 10MWh of onsite energy storage and is part of a seven-project, 25MW portfolio made possible through a collaboration with the Schenectady County Solar Energy Consortium that provides over $400,000 in energy savings annually to the municipalities and cities of Schenectady County and enables each of the municipalities to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
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