New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has approved the Shared Renewables program, an initiative aimed at providing opportunities for renters, homeowners, low-income residents, schools and businesses to set up shared renewable energy projects.
The governor says many New Yorkers are currently unable to participate in renewable energy projects because they rent their home, live in an apartment building, or own properties unsuitable for installing solar panels or other clean energy technology.
Under the Shared Renewables program (also referred to as community distributed generation), customers can join together to share in the benefits of local solar, wind and other renewable energy projects. Each individual member's production would appear as a credit on his or her monthly utility bill.
Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman says, "Under Gov. Cuomo's [Reforming the Energy Vision (REV)] initiative, Shared Renewables expands consumer access to reliable, low-cost electricity generated from renewable energy facilities."
The first phase of the program, running from Oct. 19, 2015, through April 30, 2016, will focus on promoting low-income customer participation and installations in areas of the power grid that can benefit most from local power production.
These projects will be limited to those that advance one of two specific REV goals: siting distributed generation in areas where it can provide the greatest locational benefits to the larger power grid or supporting economically distressed communities by ensuring at least 20% of the participants are low- and moderate-income customers.
Beginning May 1, 2016, a second phase will make shared renewable projects available throughout entire utility service territories.
In addition, other REV principles can be applied, such as aligning utility incentives to fully support Shared Renewables projects by allowing shared savings or revenues from new business models that facilitate projects at lower costs.
Customers interested in the Shared Renewables initiative can participate in a number of ways. For example, the residents of a condominium can come together for a shared solar project and would need to find a sponsor to be responsible for organizing the project on behalf of the residents. This sponsor could be a developer or even the residents of the building who band together to form a legal entity such as a limited liability corporation.