“Albany Capitol Building” by Spamboy is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Program proposes first-ever prevailing wage provision and inclusive framework for delivering benefits to disadvantaged communities

December 21, 2021

Albany, NY —Governor Kathy Hochul has just released a new framework developed by NYSERDA for meeting New York’s goal of at least 10 gigawatts (GW) of distributed solar by 2030, a proposal that aims to expand the state’s NY Sun Initiative to make solar energy more accessible to homes, businesses and communities. The plan would increase the community solar and rooftop solar deployed across New York to amounts that could power 700,000 additional homes annually. The plan also includes the state’s first prevailing wage requirement for projects over one megawatt and outlines how 40 percent of the program’s benefits shall be delivered to disadvantaged communities and low-income residents.

The roadmap to achieving 10 GW of distributed solar comes after Governor Hochul announced the target earlier this fall.

“We’re happy to see the roadmap filed by NYSERDA clearly reflects the value community solar has brought, and will continue to bring, to New York as the state works toward achieving its larger climate goals,” said Kaitlin Kelly O’Neill, northeast regional director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “The expanded resources to bring greater access to disadvantaged communities will increase clean energy equity and economic benefits while continuing to advance decarbonization efforts.”

A few features of the roadmap include: 

  • Expanding the current NY-Sun incentives to reach 10GW by 2030;
  • Of the 4GW expansion, 70% of capacity is expected to be constructed as community solar; 30% is expected to be rooftop and commercial and industrial;
  • 1600 MW of new incentives will be directed toward low and moderate income and disadvantaged communities, dedicating $600 million in total investments;
  • Requiring all projects 1MW and over to hire labor at prevailing wage; and
  • Seeks $1.45 billion in funding for the NY-Sun expansion, but is expected to spur $4.4 billion in private investment and create an additional 6,000 solar jobs.    

“The prevailing wage component of New York’s new roadmap is a natural evolution of where the industry has been heading for some time,” said Matt Hargarten, Vice President for Campaigns for the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “Community solar has always been a catalyst for the creation of new economic opportunities and investment in local communities and high-paying jobs that support working families. When our fellow community members can work in high-paying jobs building renewable, equitable, distributed energy, we all win.”  

In November, national modeling experts Vibrant Clean Energy released a report that found accelerating the growth of local community and rooftop solar on New York’s electric grid can save New York more than $28 billion by 2050 and is the lowest cost path to meeting the decarbonization and climate justice mandates of New York’s landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The law, which was passed in 2019, requires New York to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and mandates that 40% of state climate and energy funding be invested in disadvantaged communities (DACs). 

“The solar roadmap released today shows that New York’s leaders get it. A swift and steady ramp-up of local solar is essential to meeting the Empire State’s clean energy and climate goals,” says Rob Sargent, campaign director for Local Solar for All. “Hats off to Governor Hochul and NYSERDA for their leadership in recognizing that rooftop and community solar is key to an equitable transition to a carbon-free energy system with less pollution, more customer savings, and more job creation.”

The framework was developed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) with substantial stakeholder input. It has been submitted to the New York Public Service Commission where it will receive public comment before approval.


About Coalition for Community Solar Access

The Coalition for Community Solar Access is a national Coalition of businesses and non-profits working to expand customer choice and access to solar for all American households and businesses through community solar. Our mission is to empower every American energy consumer with the option to choose local, clean, and affordable community solar. We work with customers, utilities, local stakeholders, and policymakers to develop and implement policies and best practices that ensure community solar programs provide a win, win, win for all, starting with the customer. For more information, visit https://www.communitysolaraccess.org and follow the group on Facebook.