N.Y. announces largest-ever solicitation for renewables

Source: By David Iaconangelo, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2020

New York’s governor said yesterday that the state would seek deals with renewable developers to produce power for up to 1.5 million homes, through what he called the “nation’s largest combined solicitations ever issued” in the United States.

The two solicitations — one for land-based renewables and another for offshore wind — are the state’s formal invitation to developers to submit project plans. They’re also New York’s principal means of building out a fleet of large-scale renewables quickly enough to supply 70% of all power by 2030, as required by state law.

“With these record-breaking solicitations for renewable energy and new port infrastructure, New York continues to lead the way with the most ambitious Green New Deal in the nation,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.

The governor framed the decision as a way of propping up the state’s economy as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic by creating an estimated $7 billion in new investments and 4,500 jobs — with priority hiring for environmental justice communities. It comes three months after energy officials announced they would not carry out solicitations “in the near term” because of the coronavirus (Energywire, April 24).

One closely watched solicitation was for offshore wind, which could result in the largest deal reached by any state in history. Up to 2,500 megawatts could be awarded for turbine projects in the Atlantic Ocean, topping last year’s record 1,700-MW solicitation.

Developers will also have to include plans to upgrade ports and fashion them into staging grounds, manufacturing centers or maintenance hubs — with about $400 million in help from the state. That could add to a growing competition among East Coast states to attract offshore wind jobs.

Energy groups hailed the move. “This action is a fantastically strong signal from New York to the renewables industry,” said Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, adding that it showed the state was ready to “build back greener.”

Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said, “The Empire State is about to launch an empire of clean, affordable and job-driving renewable energy.”

For land-based solar and wind, the solicitations will include new features intended to speed up renewable construction that were passed in a recent law spearheaded by Cuomo. Large-scale projects, meaning those with 25 MW of capacity or above, will seek their permits through a newly created Office of Renewable Energy Siting.

Local officials, environmental justice groups and companies from across the state will now be able to propose former industrial sites for consideration as hosts for “build-ready” renewable projects.

Overall, the state has awarded contracts for 67 large-scale renewable projects in the past two years, according to the governor’s office. Combined with the new awards, projects will be ready to supply about 11% of the state’s total power demand by 2030.