Clean Power Financing Support from the NY Green Bank

By Yiqing Zhao

Great news for clean energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects: NY Green Bank is here to help financing, firmly supported by NYSERDA.

Open for business since last February, the state-sponsored fund NY Green bank is a division of NYSERDA. As New York’s very own energy expert, NYSERDA promotes technological innovation in building efficiency and envisions a clean energy future.

NY Green Bank’s mission is to advance and expand clean energy (including energy efficiency and renewables) from a financing perspective, in a self-sustaining manner. Currently, the biggest obstacles that prohibit most great projects from fruition are their inaccessibility to financing in the traditional market. Among them, many small & medium-size businesses don’t stand a chance for getting financed.

This is about to change by the NY Green Bank:

Hence, “the Green Bank is in the business of partnering with other lending and other capital market institutions, other financial actors, such as insurance companies or banks and getting them into the business by partnering with them and saying look, we can show you how this work,” explained John Rhodes, NYSERDA President and CEO. When fully capitalized, NY Green Bank expects to have $1 billion on the balance sheet and a projection of $8 billion of additional private sector investment in clean energy projects over the next ten years.

Market-focused and market-responsive, NY Green Bank provides financial support including credit enhancement (such as loan loss reserves and loan building), project aggregation, wholesale leveraging on lowering interest rate, and securitization amidst its pushing for various benign public-private partnerships.

Having been open for only a short time, NY Green Bank “already have seven deals ready to go that are going to commit most of [their] initial capitalization across a range of projects for clean energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency across the state and leveraging upwards of $600 million from those financial service partners,” said Rhodes.

NY Green Bank is starting to tremendously benefit efficiency-minded building owners and clean energy/efficiency/renewable contractors. With a mission to accelerate clean energy deployment in New York State by working in partnership with the private sector to transform financing markets, it’s time to learn to work with them.

New York Doubles Solar Capacity in 2014

NY Solar Jobs Grow by 40%

(PRWEB) March 18, 2015

Growing by 105 percent, New York had the seventh most new solar capacity added last year in the nation, according to the recently-released U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review. The state also maintained its Top 10 ranking in total installed capacity, finishing the year behind only New Jersey and Massachusetts among Northeastern states.

In 2014, New York added 147 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 397 MW. That’s enough clean, affordable energy to power nearly 70,000 homes. The report went on to point out that New York’s biggest solar gains came in residential installations, but commercial installations were strong, as well, setting a new record. Of the new capacity added, 89 MW were residential, 49 MW were commercial and 9 MW were utility scale. Together, these installations represented a $451 million investment across New York – a 33 percent increase over the previous year.

“To put the state’s remarkable progress in some context, the 397 MW of solar installed today in New York is more than our entire country had installed by 2007. That’s an amazing achievement,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “What’s more, we expect 2015 to be New York’s best year ever for new PV installations, with more than 250 MW on new capacity projected to come online. We congratulate Gov. Cuomo, his administration and legislative leaders for their commitment to New York’s clean energy future.”

Today, there are 538 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in New York, employing more than 7,300 people. New York’s notable solar projects include:

Long Island Solar Farm was developed by BP Solar. This photovoltaic (PV) project has the capacity to generate 32 MW of electricity – enough to power more than 5,000 New York homes.

At 5 MW, Eastern Long Island Solar Project is among the largest solar installations in New York. Completed by EDF Renewables, this PV project has enough electric capacity to power more than 800 homes.

Many large retailers in New York have also gone solar, including Walmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Target.

Anheuser-Busch has installed one of the largest corporate photovoltaic systems in the state with 797 kilowatts (kW) of solar capacity at their location in Bronx.

In addition to a growing commercial sector, New York’s residential market also showed significant gains last year, with installed system prices dropping by 8 percent – and down a total of 49 percent since 2010. Nationwide, the U.S. residential market added 1.2 GW of installed capacity in 2014, marking the first time that this growing sector surpassed 1 GW of clean, affordable solar. Residential also continues to be the fastest-growing market segment in the U.S., with 2014 marking three consecutive years of greater than 50 percent annual growth.

From an environmental perspective, solar installations in New York are helping to offset nearly 325,000 metric tons of harmful carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of removing more than 70,000 cars off state roads and highways or saving 363,000 gallons of gasoline.

“Today, the U.S. solar industry employs 174,000 Americans nationwide – more than tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter combined – and pumps nearly $18 billion a year into our economy,” Resch added. “This remarkable growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for both the U.S. and New York economies, as well as for our environment.”

via New York Doubles Solar Capacity in 2014.

NY Just Reached A Major Landmark in Electricity System Evolution

via Rocky Mountain Institute – MAR 11, 2015

Two weeks ago New York State came one step closer to creating the electricity system of the future when the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) adopted its first major Order as part of the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding. This is a significant milestone on the path to create a cleaner, more affordable, more modern, and more efficient energy system in New York by harnessing distributed energy resources (DERs) such as demand response, rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and microgrids.

The Track 1 Order lays out the regulatory policy framework and implementation plan to achieve REV. There are at least two important themes:


The PSC recognizes that the electricity industry must evolve in the face of multiple converging challenges and opportunities. Assumptions that have long guided the electric industry—including inelastic demand, natural monopoly, and economies of scale—no longer hold in their entirety, and REV is needed to ensure the fulfillment of the PSC’s statutory responsibility for reliable, safe, affordable, and environmentally responsible electricity. In the Order, the PSC notes:

“Utilities, and this Commission, could respond to [the challenges facing the industry] by clinging to the traditional business model for as long as possible, relying on protective tariffs, regulatory delay, and other defenses against innovation…Alternatively, we can identify and build regulatory, utility, and market models that create new value for consumers and support market entrants and this new form of intermodal competition—in other words, embrace the changes that are shaking the traditional system and turn them to New York’s economic and environmental advantage. We decisively take the latter approach.”


The vision put forth in REV is one in which DERs are the first resource chosen, not the last. The Order notes,“Distributed energy resources will become integral tools in the planning, management, and operation of the electric system. The system values of distributed resources will be monetized in a market, placing DERs on a competitive par with centralized options.”

With the appropriate regulatory and business model changes started in this Track 1 Order—and to be further defined in Track 2—utilities should take the role of integrator and system optimizer to leverage DERs as a resource to drive system efficiency and affordability. To do so, New York’s utilities have a new role: to develop and operate the platform needed to empower customers and enable distributed energy markets, or distributed system platforms (DSPs). Recognizing potential market power risks, utilities will not be able to own DERs except in exceptional circumstances such as when a particular market segment is being underserved, or when energy storage is located on utility property.

To help facilitate customer engagement and third-party participation, system data will be made transparent and available to DER providers, with the details to be determined by an ongoing stakeholder process. Further, a web-based DER marketplace platform will be created (imagine a Kayak for DERs) to provide customers with information on DER choices and allow for comparison shopping.


Significant work remains to be done to facilitate the transition to the electric system REV envisions. A number of near-term actions and next steps are specified in the Order, including the creation of market design and platform technology working groups to further specify the DSP market requirements; and the requirement that utilities file distributed system implementation plans (DSIPs) by the end of 2015.

The Order also acknowledges several activities already under way to drive near-term impact, including a requirement for utilities to develop demand response tariffs and to propose demonstration projects to explore and rapidly evolve approaches to enact REV.

Finally, ongoing work under Track 2 will propose specific regulatory reforms to the utility business model, rate-making approaches, and rate design to achieve REV policy goals.

Rocky Mountain Institute serves as a strategic advisor to New York’s Department of Public Service on the REV proceeding.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Hello Local Energy, Bye Old Power Industry, Say NY Regulators with Key Vote

New York, where the power industry began over a century ago, might be where it ends too. At least the power industry as we know it today.

The state’s electric regulators made that clear February 26 when they took a key vote creating an electricity marketplace that elevates new, local energy over big central power plants and long transmission lines.

The New York Public Service Commission approved the framework for its  Reforming the Energy Vision, or REV, a dramatic reworking of roles in the electricity business. Customers, innovators and competitive companies gain new stature, while utilities act as a more subservient platform for the new offerings.

The decision opens the door wide for disruptive energy technologies, such as microgrids, energy efficiency, solar, electric vehicles, energy storage and demand response.

Audrey Zibelman, the PSC chair who is widely credited for the new direction, described REV as a way to make the grid “more nimble, flexible and accommodating” for the new technologies.

She expects the new paradigm to increase system efficiency, lower costs, reduce emissions, increase system reliability and make the grid less vulnerable to attack.

New York is one of the first states to create such sweeping regulation, which lets consumers, businesses and communities gain control over their energy supply. As a result, the proceeding has attracted national attention over the last year as the commission formulated the plan.

About 300 local and national players weighed in and the commission received more than 1,000 written comments, most supporting the industry shift.

“It’s been overwhelming seeing the engagement,” Zibelman said, during Thursday’s commission meeting.

The Framework

The new distributed energy marketplace will operate on what New York calls a distributed system platform (DSP). This is both a “market maker and system coordinator,” according to the commission’s written decision.

The DSP plays a role somewhat akin to an independent system operator for wholesale markets. The DSP will plan, balance markets, oversee auctions and offer price transparency.

By way of example, the commission said products that use the platform might include microgrids, community solar, storage, fixed commodity pricing, demand response, energy efficiency programs and contracts for distributed energy maintenance and operations.

The DSP also will provide, or sell, a set of products and services of its own for those that use the platform. The products might include transaction or usage fees, platform access, analytic services, interconnection services, pricing and billing, metering information services and data sharing and maintenance, operation, and financing.

Why the Big Changes

A whole host of industry shifts led New York to create REV. Among them was the realization that the grid cannot efficiently meet today’s demand.

Because of economic changes and increased use of air conditioning, costly system peaks keep occurring. The state typically needs only about 18,000 MW. But to meet system peaks just a few hours a year, it must maintain 26,000 MW of capacity, Zibelman said.

By just operating more efficiently and reducing peak demand, the system could spare customers $1.5 to $2 billion per year, she said.

Further, the state’s power grid is aging, and it will cost a tremendous amount of money for New York to rebuild — about $30 billion over the next decade, almost double the investment of the last decade.

At the same time demand is slowing, meaning electricity sales are down. This creates a smaller base from which the electric industry can collect money for the new infrastructure. The bottom line is that rates will go up, if the state simply continues with business as usual.

local energy

“If we can manage the demand, manage the peak, we can avoid that investment,” Zibelman said.

Praise and Concerns

The REV concept has received widespread praise from companies promoting disruptive energy tech, energy entrepreneurs, investors, environmentalists and other stakeholders.

“There is so much potential, it is extraordinary,” said Mike Gordon, CEO of Joule Assets, which offers financing for energy efficiency and demand response. “The opportunity for private companies, for towns and villages, for government entities, it is just so rich. And the opportunity for consumers is so powerful.”

Kit Kennedy, director of the energy & transportation program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, described REV asa bold step toward creating a cleaner and more efficient electric grid in New York state.”

“The decision paves the way to ramp up clean energy and energy efficiency, put more clean vehicles on the road, and make our electric grid more reliable than ever. On top of that, it will help lower energy bills for consumers, especially for low-income New Yorkers who need it most,” Kennedy said.

A key worry, however, has been that even as New York makes these changes, utilities will use their market clout to squash the many new competitors expected to emerge.

Anticipating this issue, the state set up rules to keep utility dominance in check. REV places limits on utility market plays. To own or develop distributed energy resources, a utility must prove that its investment:

  • Meets needs that the competitive market has been unable to fill
  • Includes energy storage integrated into the utility distribution system
  • Helps low or moderate income residential customers to benefit from distributed energy where markets cannot do so, or
  • Serves demonstration purposes

Joule Assets’ Gordon said he believes the competitive market will ramp up quickly, taking away the need for utilities to provide even these services.

What’s Next

The REV changes aren’t going to happen overnight, but will occur over several steps likely to take years.

With the REV framework now in place, the New York commission will move onto what it calls Track II in the REV proceeding. Track II will focus on the financial nitty-gritty: changes in how utilities are paid for their services — now that they will operate differently. The key is to avoid what is referred to as the “utility death spiral,” the financial degradation of a utility as it loses conventional customers.

Zibel said that REV spares utility financial harm because it gives them a new role managing the distributed platform.  And bulk power — large central power plants — do not go away; their role is simply no longer as dominant. Management and exchange will be needed between the two sides of the system: wholesale power and distributed energy. So utilities also will act as interface with the state’s grid operator, the New York ISO,

As a next step, utilities must solicit and develop demonstration projects that fit the REV framework. Projects are due to the commission by July 15.

By May 15 utilities  must identify potential non-wire alternatives for their systems.

And by December 15, they must file DSP implementation plans that include interconnection improvements.

Track the disruptive energy market in New York and other states by signing up for the Energy Efficiency Markets Newsletter. It’s free.

via Hello Local Energy, Bye Old Power Industry, Say New York Regulators with Key Vote – Energy Efficiency Markets.