New York Regulators Approve 10 MW Solar Initiative At JFK Airport

The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) recently approved a major solar initiative by the Port Authority of New York & Jersey.

The PSC’s action allows the port authority, in collaboration with the New York Power Authority (NYPA), to move forward with plans to create at least 10 MW of on-site solar facilities at John F. Kennedy International Airport, including a 5 MW community solar facility that will offer power at reduced rates to nearby communities.

Through the community solar project, residents, particularly those in low-income neighborhoods, would have first access to purchase solar-generated energy at a reduced rate from their normal utility bill. The facility would be sited on a portion of JFK’s long-term parking lot.

“The implementation of community solar is growing and will now be accessible for homeowners and renters around John F. Kennedy International Airport,” says Kevin O’Toole, chairman of the port authority. “The port authority will continue designing similar programs that are intended to support communities that seek renewable energy while reducing emissions across the agency.”

The project is part of the port authority’s interim target to lower greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions 35% by 2025 and a long-term reduction goal of 80% by 2050.

In October, the port authority board embraced the Paris Climate Agreement, becoming the first transportation agency in the nation to do so, it claimed. Soon after, the agency’s Office of Environmental and Energy Programs sought interest from developers for the JFK solar project in a request for information.

The port authority expects to develop the community solar project by entering into a lease agreement with a developer, which would construct a large solar array over a portion of JFK’s long-term parking lot. In addition to the 5 MW community solar project, the port authority will seek to develop an additional 5 MW-8 MW solar system at the site for the port authority’s own consumption at JFK.

The community solar developer would design, build, own, operate and maintain the system, as well as arrange for the sale of electricity to residents. Solar panels would be placed atop a canopy structure built over a portion of the parking area. The agency would receive a regular lease payment from the developer, and the port authority would enter into a power purchase agreement for the portion of the development intended for its use at JFK.

“The port authority’s ambitious solar development plans represent a true success story,” notes John B. Rhodes, chair of the PSC. “New York State has ambitious clean energy goals that require the smart, aggressive development of renewable energy.”

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