New York PSC expands access to solar through revised VDER tariff

Yesterday, the State of New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) issued its long-awaited order updating the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) tariff, which compensates distributed energy resources, like solar, for the collective environmental and societal benefits they provide to the state’s electrical grid.

For more than a year, the Clean Energy Parties, a coalition for clean energy industry associations, environmental organizations and advocates for solar, worked with the PSC to drive the important changes that were announced today. Among many changes, today’s order includes a few key improvements that directly benefit future solar projects in New York:

  • Revises the method for how the value of reduced energy demand is determined, making these values more predictable for all solar projects, including projects benefiting municipalities and businesses.
  • Creates a “community credit” as part of VDER, which will help ensure that all New York customers, including schools, businesses and local governments are able to participate in community solar projects.
  • Extends net metering to projects under 750 kilowatts in size, which will encourage the development of on-site solar projects serving certain commercial customers.
  • While there is more work ahead to improve the VDER tariff over the long-term, including making changes to the way environmental values are determined and addressing billing issues, the changes made by the PSC today will help New York reach Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal of installing six gigawatts of distributed solar in the Empire State by 2025.

“The Commission’s order will help unlock New York’s community solar market and get projects moving forward into construction across the state, creating access to solar for tens of thousands more homes and businesses,” said Jeff Cramer, executive director of the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “It will take continued focus from the Commission to truly transition New York’s outdated electric system into one that provides access to affordable local clean power for all New Yorkers. In particular, we look forward to working with the Commission to improve utility billing services for community solar customers to ensure a positive customer experience.”

“The recommendations adopted today significantly improve the VDER tariff and should more fairly and accurately compensate larger solar projects for the energy they produce,” said Sean Gallagher, VP of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “We commend the PSC for making these changes, which will help keep New York on track to meet the Governor’s solar goals and we look forward to working with the DPS on properly valuing solar energy’s full benefits in the coming months.”

“Solar projects serving commercial customers and community solar projects are bringing good jobs and clean energy to New York, and this market needs to flourish to help us reach our renewable energy goals. We are very pleased that progress is being made in this proceeding to make the solar market more certain and viable,” said Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York. “The end goal is a fair compensation system that allows all solar to grow, and this order will help reach that goal.”

“New York has set an ambitious goal of building enough solar to power one million homes by 2025, and the Public Service Commission’s order is one step on the path to achieving that. This solar-powered vision of New York will mean thousands of jobs, millions of dollars in private investment and cleaner air in communities all across the State,” said Sean Garren, Northeast senior director for Vote Solar. “I applaud the Commission for making some important fixes to the Value of Distributed Energy Resources tariff, how solar customers are compensated for their valuable clean, local energy, which will enable more cities and towns, schools and businesses to choose solar and expand access to cost-saving community solar. We look forward to the critical work ahead with the Commission as we further improve the tariff and remove other barriers to solar adoption.”

News item from Vote Solar

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