Solar industry urges New York PSC to adopt VDER recommendations

A coalition of clean energy organizations, led by SEIA, filed supportive comments on the New York Department of Public Service’s (DPS) white paper regarding the future of large commercial solar and community solar projects. SEIA urged the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to swiftly approve the paper’s recommendations and the coalition’s suggested improvements.

“The DPS’ recommendations are a critical step forward in more fairly valuing larger solar projects and spurring deployment,” said Sean Gallagher, VP of state affairs at SEIA. “Many New York towns, businesses and consumers who have wanted to go solar over the past year have not been able to amidst policy uncertainty, which is why we are urging the PSC to quickly adopt these recommendations. Making these policy changes now is also vital to meeting Governor Cuomo’s goal of moving New York to 70% renewable electricity by 2030.”

The policy, the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER), determines how distributed solar projects in New York are compensated, and the white paper will inform the PSC’s upcoming decision on potential reforms. The coalition has been seeking VDER reforms for more than a year, as the current policy has undervalued large solar projects, hampered installations and reduced the state’s job growth.

In its white paper, the DPS proposes several critical changes to the VDER policy, which the coalition supports. These include:

  • Changing the ineffective Demand Reduction Value of the VDER tariff, which was based on 10 hours of the previous year, to a longer set of forward hours. This critical change allows solar developers to design their systems to maximize output.
  • Establishing a new “community credit” that will allow municipal, business and residential customers to participate in community solar projects, a major improvement over the status quo.

While it is critical that the PSC quickly adopts these recommendations, the coalition also urged the DPS and PSC to continue their work on other parts of the VDER policy during 2019, ensuring that residential solar projects are appropriately valued.

The coalition, named the Clean Energy Parties, includes SEIA, the Coalition for Community Solar Access, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the New York Solar Energy Industries Association, Pace Energy and Climate Center and Vote Solar.

New York has more than 1,569 MW of solar capacity, making it the 10th biggest solar state. The industry now employs more than 9,000 workers.

News item from SEIA

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