The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), in conjunction with the state Public Service Commission (PSC), announced today the award of $20 million in large-scale solar power projects to help facilities in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley generate electricity for their own use. This is the first round of a $150 million, five-year funding program. Another $10 million is available for a second round of proposals due Aug. 10, 2011.

Projects to receive incentives in the first round include a wide variety of Metropolitan New York businesses, all of which are major consumers of electricity. Potential recipients include five department stores, several discount stores, a half-dozen apartment complexes owned by Omni New York LLC, Pepsi Cola's Bronx bottling plant, two United States Postal Service distribution centers and about 20 other sites in and around New York. While contract negotiations are pending, these businesses and others have provided letters of interest.

The money is being awarded to solar contractors, who are seeking to install the systems on more than 30 commercial buildings and large apartment buildings. Having PV systems in prominent locations such as major retailers or large apartment complexes helps encourage others to make similar investments.

Because of the large size of these installations, NYSERDA's investment leverages a much greater return than solar incentives that concentrate on small-scale solar power (photovoltaic, or PV) projects.

"These large solar PV systems will reduce the strain on the electric grid while generating a significant amount of clean-energy electricity," said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA. "By focusing on New York City and surrounding areas, this program will enable New Yorkers to make the most populous part of the state more energy efficient."

Garry Brown, Chairman of the state Public Service Commission, said: "We are very excited about promoting the growth of solar energy in New York City and the surrounding region. Developing renewable energy resources is a primary goal of the Commission. Programs that encourage renewable energy development will help ensure a cleaner environment and will enable us to take command of our energy future."

The projects were selected through a competitive process. Applicants submitted confidential price bids, enabling NYSERDA to choose the lowest price in order to get the most value. The NYSERDA incentive pays up to 50 percent of the cost of a project, up to $3 million. NYSERDA's contributions help encourage businesses to invest in this clean-energy technology by offsetting some of the cost. PV systems are also eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit and a 25 percent state tax credit.

Earlier this year, NYSERDA launched the $150 million program encouraging large businesses, especially manufacturing facilities; colleges and universities; schools; and other large buildings to take advantage of renewable energy incentives specifically for New York City and the lower the Hudson Valley. The incentives are for large-scale photovoltaic and biogas power initiatives.

NYSERDA will award up to $30 million each year, of which $25 million is targeted for New York City or southern Westchester County. The idea is to promote more clean-energy production in a part of the state that traditionally has been a large consumer of fossil fuels. The projects are meant to produce power for on-site use, not for direct sale to utilities. Under certain circumstances, however, unused power can be added to the grid in exchange for future utility credit.

The program is funded under the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The RPS, created by the state Public Service Commission in 2004 to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, is administered by NYSERDA using a surcharge collected from ratepayers served by investor-owned utility companies. The funds help pay for more than a thousand clean-energy projects every year, ranging from large-scale wind farms to photovoltaic panels on private homes.

The funding is available to New York ratepayers who pay the RPS charge and can qualify based on the size of their facility.

For more information on this incentive:

Alan Wechsler
518 862-1090 ext. 3561<

NYSERDA offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.  NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. A public benefit corporation, NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.