ALBANY – In a move widely expected to invigorate the state’s wind power industry, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority on Monday announced $250 million in renewable-energy incentives available for developers across the state.
Companies building wind farms, expanding hydroelectric plants and creating facilities that use biomass are expected to apply for the funding, which is part of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard designed to increase the amount of electricity generated in the state from renewable sources.
The RPS is funded by a fee collected from consumers and businesses in their electric bills. Since 2005, NYSERDA has issued “solicitations” for projects seeking the funding. Essentially a subsidy, the incentives are designed to make renewable-energy projects as cost-efficient as traditional power plants.
NYSERDA has held solicitations on a regular basis, but the industry never knew exactly when regulators would approve the next one, leading to some uncertainty. Now, after changes were approved by the state Public Service Commission, NYSERDA is planning to publish a calendar of upcoming solicitations. NYSERDA also won’t have to get prior PSC approval for each round of funding.
Those moves, along with Monday’s announcement, are expected to breathe new life into a renewable-energy sector that has been stagnated as the economy sagged. There had also been fears that a federal tax credit for wind farms would not be renewed. That credit has been extended.
“The timing is excellent,” said Carol Murphy, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York.
Although NYSERDA has not released a timetable for new solicitations, Murphy said she is hopeful that the authority will hold two per year, giving the wind industry a predictable funding source. The money, which is provided through long-term contracts, is awarded on a competitive basis, with economic impact a major factor.
Kevin Hale, a senior project manager with NYSERDA, said the wind industry has shown a lot of interest in this latest round of funding. The winning bidders will be announced in April. Most important, he said, is that projects requiring a long-term commitment by investors will now be able to map out when they can apply for the next round of NYSERDA funding.
“That will give them some sort of predictability,” Hale said.