NYPA CEO Announces Strong Response to Solar Power Request for Proposals, Bids Now Being Evaluated

Michael Saltzman

April 29, 2010

Photo and Caption


BUFFALO—New York Power Authority (NYPA) President Richard M. Kessel today announced that NYPA received 43(*see note below) proposals on Earth Day, April 22, for development of up to 100 megawatts (mw) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, for a fivefold increase of the current amount of installed PV generation in New York State. The bids were in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) that NYPA issued in January for distributed solar generation systems whose output will be the equivalent of the electricity that would be required for meeting the needs of approximately 15,000 average homes.

“The overwhelming response that we received from the solar power industry puts this project on a solid footing, with the initial solar installations expected to begin later this year,” Kessel said. “The project—the largest solar initiative in New York State history—will make a significant contribution toward Governor Paterson’s goal for 45 percent of the state’s electricity needs to be met by improved energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy by the year 2015. 

“The planned solar power purchases by the Power Authority should also spur development of clean energy industries, contributing much-needed jobs to the state’s economy. The additional alternative energy supplies will also help to combat global-warming greenhouse gas emissions by displacing fossil-fuel generation, while enhancing energy security.  In short, this is a win-win for New York,” Kessel said.

“We’re excited by the terrific response to our solar RFP and eager to move forward with the project, in partnership with third-party developers, as well as schools and local and state governments whose facilities will be the locations for the solar panels,” NYPA Chairman Michael J. Townsend said.  “This is going to help build a foundation for additional amounts of renewable energy supplies in New York State and provide new job opportunities for the manufacture, installation and maintenance of the equipment.”

The Power Authority has begun the process of evaluating the proposals on the basis of the requirements of the RFP, whose bid submittal deadline was last week. It expects to make preliminary selections by this summer, with the decisions based on price and various other factors. This includes bidders’ demonstrated record of developing, owning and operating solar power generating systems, and their plans for identifying and arranging for the use of host sites in the location categories specified by NYPA for the solar installations.

The Power Authority is also interested in the plans for using local materials and labor for the installation, operation and maintenance of the equipment, as well as additional economic development benefits. To advance this effort, NYPA has initiated a business registry, which provides an opportunity for New York State manufacturers and service providers to connect with solar power developers and take part in this growth industry and initiative. To date, over 200 companies have joined the solar registry.
Recommendations to the NYPA Trustees of the bidder awards are expected to be made at the board’s September meeting. Further details on the solar power initiative are available on the NYPA Web site at www.nypa.gov/solar/100mw

“The far-sighted public-private venture on which the Power Authority is embarking will put New York State squarely among the leaders in embracing new clean energy technologies, solidifying its reputation for bold steps in fostering the commercialization of these technologies and using it as a platform to create jobs,” said D. Patrick Curley, a NYPA trustee from Orchard Park.  “NYPA has developed the 100-mw solar project to be a statewide initiative, with the photovoltaic generating systems distributed in Western New York and other regions so that the energy, economic and environmental benefits are widely shared.”

"This is definitely one of the largest solar initiatives in New York State, continuing our leadership in energy conservation,” said Senator Antoine Thompson. “As Chair of the New York Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, I applaud the Power Authority and fully support its endeavors. Not only will this help achieve the goal of establishing clean renewable energy, but will prove to be a boost to the state's economy by creating and promoting green jobs in New York State."

"Clean, renewable energy sources like solar power are the key to protecting the environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil," said New York State Assemblyman Mark J.F. Schroeder.  "This cutting edge technology is also vital in reshaping New York State's economy for the 21st century."

The roof- and ground-mounted PV arrays will be installed at public or private kindergarten- through-Grade 12 schools, public universities and colleges, state and local government facilities, and municipal and rural electric cooperative systems—community-owned electric systems in Western New York and other parts of the state that benefit from low-cost NYPA hydropower. In addition to the Buffalo-Niagara region and 11 other counties in Western New York, the identified regions for hosting the solar generating systems are Northern New York, Central New York, Southeastern New York and New York City. 

The PV systems will be owned and operated by the developers, with the Power Authority purchasing the generating output under 20-year power purchase agreements. NYPA will also enter into contracts with the project hosts, such as schools where the PV arrays are located, for the sale of the electricity from the systems.  In instances involving the municipal and rural electric systems, the solar power is expected to provide support for the local electric distribution grid operated by those systems, rather than the power being contained to a single host site.

The generating capacity of the site installations is expected to vary from 100 kilowatts (kw) to five megawatts (1 mw equals 1,000 kw), with the installations occurring through 2014.

The 100 mw of solar power are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45,000 tons per year, adding to the significant role that the Power Authority has played in removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere from energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives that it has undertaken throughout the state.  These investments are reducing carbon emissions by more than 766,000 tons per year, furthering NYPA’s credentials as one of the cleanest utilities in the country from its significant hydropower generating capacity.  This includes the Niagara and St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt projects in Lewiston and Massena, which met approximately 15 percent of the state’s electricity needs last year.

NYPA has spearheaded the installation of 36 PV systems at public facilities in various parts of the state, from the Buffalo Museum of Science to the Executive Mansion in Albany to the Power Authority’s administrative office building in White Plains. It is currently partnering with the University at Buffalo to install 5,000 PV panels to generate power for a total of 735 student apartments housing nearly 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It also is teaming with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority on a solar installation at the transit agency’s Frontier Garage in Buffalo. Both installations are being undertaken by a Buffalo-area firm, Solar Liberty of Williamsville.

The Power Authority’s efforts to spur development of solar power have also been reflected by recent allocations of low-cost Niagara hydropower to Sunworks Solar to encourage the  construction and operation of a $200 million solar panel manufacturing plant in Western New York to create 175 permanent clean energy jobs; to Globe Specialty Metals for the company’s reopening and expansion of a $60 million facility in Niagara Falls that will manufacture silicon for solar power systems and create 500 jobs; and to Precision Electro Minerals, a Niagara Falls manufacturers of fused silica, for solar-panel grade silicon and other industrial products, for creating 13 additional jobs.


Ron Kamen, president of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association, said, "NYSEIA applauds Governor Paterson and NYPA for this important project. 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."

Sandra Burton, regional director of the Solar Electric Power Association, said, “The Solar Electric Power Association [SEPA] commends the New York Power Authority for its innovative 100-MW solar program. 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.”
Thomas Key, technical executive at the Electric Power Research Institute, said, “The scale of NYPA’s initiative enables New York distribution companies to better understand the grid integration challenges of high-penetration photovoltaic generation. 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.”   

*44 is the official and final number of proposals.

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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