NY-Sun wins $1bn commitment

New York State has significantly expanded its NY-Sun Initiative designed to strengthen the state's growing PV sector.

Launched two years ago as a four-year, $432m programme, the NY-Sun Initiative sees the state financially incentivize PV projects of various sizes, with companies like SolarCity and SunEdison, as well as smaller players, emerging as major beneficiaries.

By the end of 2013, the state had financially supported 299MW of capacity – most of it still under construction.

But the state has now expanded its financial commitment to NY-Sun to $1bn and expanded the programme through 2023, while redesigning the rules to quicken the move from “government-sponsored” PV systems to “market-based, sustainable solutions”.

The money is expected to support 3GW of PV, compared to the 247MW currently in place in New York state.

The announcement, emanating from the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, comes the same week as Japan’s Solar Frontier revealed that it is considering building a PV module factory in the state.

Shaun Chapman, president of the New York State Solar Energy Industries Association, an advocacy group, says the 10-year commitment to NY-Sun means New York has become the “greatest market opportunity for solar anywhere in the US, without exception”.

Much of New York’s solar growth in the years ahead is expected to come from residential and commercial rooftops.

New York installed just 69MW of solar last year – putting it in 9 place nationally – out of the country’s 4.7GW total.

Under the new rules, the programme will move to a “Megawatt Block incentive structure”, which effectively assigns varying allocations and incentive levels to different geographic regions.

As the industry picks up steam in certain areas, and brings installation costs down, the incentive level for that region will decline at a rate “the market will bear”.

The new structure “provides a clear signal to industry that New York intends to eliminate cash incentives in a reasonable time frame”.

New York has also committed $3.5m to consumer education efforts on the benefits of PV, including improving the public’s understanding of the various PV contract types.

The NY-Sun Initiative comes as part of a broader suite of programmes intended to transform New York into a clean-energy hub, including the recently launched New York Green Bank.