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NY initiative pays residents in communities with wind, solar farms to combat climate change

The New York State Public Service Commission approved a Host Community Benefit Program that provides bill credits directly to residential electric customers where major renewable energy facilities are located.

The hope is that more clean energy projects will be developed to support the fight against climate change. The program will provide bill credits that vary based on the size and type of the renewable energy facility.

“To ensure host communities benefit more fully from the development of renewable energy projects, developers will now be required to fund bill credits for local electric customers,” said Commission Chair John B. Rhodes. “This first-of-its-kind program will provide direct benefits to residents, while keeping in place negotiated community-wide benefits, such as Payments in Lieu of Taxes and host community agreements.”

This program was created as a result of the nation-leading Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act. This legislation is aimed at improving and fast-tracking large-scale renewable energy projects that are environmentally responsible and cost-effective. The program will provide an annual bill credit to residential electric utility customers in an area where newly constructed facilities with 25 megawatts (MW) or greater are sited for the first 10 years a facility is operational.

Facility owners would pay the annual fee to the utility company serving the affected areas. Utilities would then apply a bill credit to eligible customers’ accounts. Additionally, utilities would annually report the following:

The amount of the credit would correlate to the type and size of the facility. Solar and wind project developers would be required to pay an annual fee of $500/MW and $1,000/MW of nameplate capacity, respectively. As a result, a 50 MW solar farm would provide annual customer credits totaling $25,000, and a 100 MW wind farm would provide annual customer credits totaling $100,000. The money would be shared by all residential customers in the host municipality, regardless of proximity to the facility.