Despite being in the northern part of the U.S., New York consistently ranks as a top U.S. solar market due to its strong policies. In addition to a strong distributed generation market, New York is one of the epicenters of community solar and last year hit the milestone of 1 GW of cumulative installations. Now that figure has doubled, with Governor Kathy Hochul announcing that more than 2 GW of community solar has been installed in the state, or enough to serve 393,000 homes.
Last April Governor Hochul announced that the State Public Service Commission approved a new framework for New York State to achieve at least 10 GW of distributed solar by 2030, enough to annually power nearly 700,000 average-sized homes. That framework provides a strategy to expand the state’s already successful NY-Sun initiative into one of the largest and most inclusive solar programs of its kind in the nation. Seven months later, the state has 5 GW of distributed solar, with 3.3 GW in development.
The program expansion also focused on bringing the benefits of solar to low- to moderate-income (LMI) New Yorkers, intending to deliver at least 35% of the benefits, with a goal of 40%, from the investments to disadvantaged and LMI communities.
Community solar is an ideal solution for LMI communities as there is no upfront cost to participants, and many customers can lock electricity rates as a hedge against the rising cost of power.
“New York’s two-gigawatt community solar achievement proves our commitment to a building a clean and healthy future,” Governor Hochul said. “Our ongoing investment in community solar generates measurable benefits for our health, our environment, our economy, and for the thousands of New Yorkers who can now enjoy lower electric bills, all thanks to our ability to harness the power of the sun.”
While community solar made up more than half the installations in New York this year, NYSERDA opened a second round of solicitations for the Inclusive Community Solar and Expanded Solar for All programs, which aim to add another 1.14 GW of community solar for LMI households and disadvantaged communities.
Wood Mackenzie Solar Market Insight quarterly report ranked New York as the all-time national leader in installed community solar, as well as number one in 2023 for community solar installations, number two in overall distributed solar and number five for residential solar.
“New York is steadfast in its commitment to achieving our Climate Act goals, and every milestone reached is one step closer to a more reliable, equitable, zero-emissions electric grid,” said Doreen M. Harris, NYSERDA president and CEO. “As the top market in the nation, community solar will continue to be a vital model to deliver clean, low-cost renewable energy to places where rooftop-mounted solar panels aren’t feasible, ensuring more New Yorkers realize the benefits of this renewable resource.”
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