NY Spurs Community Solar by Upping Project Size Threshold


In a win for solar power in New York, the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) released an order expected to encourage more communities to pursue shared solar projects by increasing the maximum size of community solar projects eligible for credits from 2 MW to 5 MW.

The initiative, known as the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) proceeding, aims to credit projects for the benefits that they provide to the electric system and to society. Expanding the size threshold will allow solar developers to reduce soft costs by allowing them to take advantage of the economies of scale afforded by including a larger number of panels within one project, and avoiding the need to arbitrarily divide development sites into multiple discrete projects. Put simply, larger community solar projects will now be eligible for a financial credit, allowing communities to build and finance projects more effectively and efficiently.

As explained in a previous blog, the VDER initiative sets credit rates for customers that subscribe to service from Distributed Energy Resources (DER), smaller energy projects that interconnect to the local utility system. These projects are generally located closer to homes and businesses where electricity is consumed than large power plants, avoiding the need to send power through large high voltage transmission lines. The PSC is phasing in VDER in stages, so while its first order setting up the rules for the new program provides a credit framework for community solar projects (the mid-size projects you see atop big box stores, factories, apartment buildings, or adjacent to communities in previously vacant land), it is expanding this framework to include other technologies like stand-alone energy storage and... Read the rest of the story on NRDC.org HERE