New York Power Authority Advances Historic Solar Energy Project: Photovoltaic Arrays to Be Installed at Educational Facilities and Municipal Buildings Throughout New York State

Christine Pritchard
(518) 322-9143

April 20, 2010


WATERTOWN – In celebration of Earth Week, New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel today was joined by Watertown City School Superintendent Terry Fralick to announce that NYPA’s historic solar initiative will support public sustainability efforts, provide renewable energy educational opportunities and stimulate the economy with new clean energy jobs throughout the state.

The unprecedented clean energy project, NYPA’s 100 Megawatt Statewide Photovoltaic Initiative, which will increase the amount of solar energy produced in New York State nearly five-fold, has received an overwhelming response and widespread support from the industry. Kessel noted that proposals from potential bidders are due on Earth Day, April 22, 2010.

Since NYPA’s issuance of the request for proposals (RFP) in January for the initiative, there have been approximately 750 registrations through its webpage to receive project information and updates.

In addition, the solar project has garnered a tremendous amount of support from the business community, with about 350 attendees at NYPA’s bidders’ conference last March and nearly 190 companies having joined the Power Authority’s business registry that assists interested businesses in their efforts to participate.

NYPA’s solar initiative seeks a public-private partnership for the installation of up to 100 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) systems across the state, including roof-mounted and ground-mounted solar arrays. When fully installed, this project will be the largest solar project in state history and will generate the equivalent of powering approximately 15,000 homes.

The project is aimed at the development of distributed solar photovoltaic generating facilities that will be installed throughout the state primarily at schools, public universities and colleges, state and local government facilities, municipal electric utilities and rural electric cooperatives. 

This project will be both the catalyst for the state’s growing solar industry, and will support and advance sustainability efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of state and local public facilities by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45,000 tons per year.

 “The future economy of this state and nation will prosper or decline based upon our level of commitment to advancing the development of green technologies and supporting energy independence,” said Michael J. Townsend, NYPA chairman. “Under Governor Paterson’s leadership, the New York Power Authority continues to find bold ways to bolster the clean energy economy through initiatives such as this one that will greatly increase our access to clean power and be the catalyst for the expansion of the solar industry in New York State.”

 “Through this solar initiative, the New York Power Authority is working toward Governor Paterson’s ‘45 by 15’ goal and helping build the solar industry in New York State,” Kessel said. “This initiative will advance the development of the solar industry and clean energy jobs throughout the state, will further help diversify our energy sources and incorporate green power educational opportunities for our schools.”

“The Watertown School District is proud to work with the New York Power Authority to advance this important clean energy initiative,” said Superintendent Fralick. “In working toward a sustainable future, it is critical that we educate our children about the need to advance clean energy initiatives that will help limit the use of fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions for a cleaner environment.”

The Power Authority is soliciting proposals from developers to install, own and operate PV arrays, and to sell all the energy and environmental attributes to NYPA under the terms of 20-year power purchase agreements.  NYPA will then enter into contracts with the project hosts, such as the school where the PV array is located, for the distribution of green power.

Installation of the solar photovoltaic projects is expected to begin in 2010 and be completed by the end of 2014.

Specifically, the RFP calls for bids related to four separate categories and five separate regions. Bidders can submit proposals for one or more regions in one or more categories.  The categories include: government facilities, including public colleges and universities; public and private K-12 schools; and parking lot canopies at any governmental, educational facilities and facilities in the municipal and rural cooperative territories. The regions are Western New York, Northern New York, Central New York, Southeast New York and New York City.

In addition to providing clean power to host facilities, the initiative will include the development of large scale “Community Solar” projects, which will connect to the distribution systems of municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives.  Community Solar projects utilize available space to generate power for an electric distribution grid rather than a single host site.  Renewable energy can then be transmitted to any loads connected to that grid.  These large scale projects can reduce costs and provide relief for grids nearing their transmission capacity.

Following review of the RFP responses, recommendations for an award are expected to be made at the September meeting of NYPA’s Board of Trustees. RFP documents and further details about the project are available on NYPA’s Web site at www.nypa.gov/solar/100mw.

“This is a tremendous initiative that will bring about additional clean energy supplies for Northern New York and other parts of the state, promote energy independence and create jobs in new alternative energy industries,” said Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, vice chair and ranking majority member of the Senate Energy & Telecommunications Committee. “Having schools as one of the host site categories will help our children understand what clean energy choices are available to us. I want to thank the governor for his leadership and commend the New York Power Authority for recognizing the value of this statewide endeavor for a major expansion of New York’s solar power supplies.”

"The impact this program will have on the state and northern New York will be transformative,” said Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell. “Photovoltaic technology is improving every year to become more efficient and its installation can be very unobtrusive, preserving our landscape.  The partnership model will provide opportunities for private industry and the public sector while inspiring and encouraging our youth to explore and understand emerging green technologies.  I commend the Governor and Power Authority for bringing this program to the North Country. It is a perfect fit for our rural landscapes, and with the work being done at our colleges and universities in the field of photovoltaic technology. The benefits we will receive in the form of cleaner and cheaper power will help strengthen our communities and improve our quality of life."

"NYSEIA applauds Governor Paterson and NYPA for this important project,” said Ron Kamen, president of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association. “This initiative is an important catalyst in the growth of the New York solar energy industry, and a giant step forward in the development of a clean energy economy in the state."

“The Solar Electric Power Association [SEPA] commends the New York Power Authority for its innovative 100-MW solar program,” said Sandra Burton, regional director, SEPA.  “The project continues to demonstrate New York’s leadership in solar energy. NYPA’s program, when fully installed, will include a wide range of installations on community, government and utility facilities, making it the largest solar program in the New York.”
 “The scale of NYPA’s initiative enables New York distribution companies to better understand the grid integration challenges of high-penetration photovoltaic generation,” said Thomas Key, technical executive at the Electric Power Research Institute. “This project provides the opportunity to expand our knowledge of what will be needed in a future electric grid to accommodate new technologies such as PV, electric vehicles and other distributed energy resources.”   

Governor Paterson’s ‘45 by 15’ program is one of the nation’s most aggressive energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. By 2015, New York State will receive 45 percent of its electricity through energy efficiency and clean renewable energy. It is conservatively estimated that this program will create 50,000 new jobs throughout the State.

In advancement of this bold plan, NYPA has installed or is undertaking projects to install nearly 50 PV systems throughout the State with a combined capacity of 3,000 kilowatts. Just in the past few months alone, NYPA has commenced solar projects with the University at Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.  This Statewide 100 MW Solar Project will significantly enhance the Power Authority’s commitment to the advancement of the solar industry in New York State.


About NYPA:

■ The New York Power Authority uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. ■ NYPA is a leader in promoting energy efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives. ■ It is the nation's largest state public power organization, with 17 generating facilities in various parts of New York State and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. ■ More than 80 percent of the electricity it produces is clean renewable hydropower.  Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state. ■For more information, www.nypa.gov.


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