The Public Service Commission has adopted a Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) policy to set the value of local renewable energy resources such as solar and wind across the state. After reviewing the decision, the New York Energy Democracy Alliance (EDA) has issued the following statement:
“The Commission is moving to rapidly phase out net energy metering – the current simple compensation mechanism for solar energy – despite deep concerns raised by community solar developers, community groups, and thousands of customers. This ruling is part of the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) process launched by Governor Cuomo to create a clean, resilient, and more affordable energy system in New York State. The EDA is concerned that the rapid pace of net metering phase-out and the complexity of the new policy jeopardize the REV goals and sets up roadblocks to community renewable energy innovation in New York State. We are disappointed that the adopted policy risks such a rapid transition; fails to set a simple and predictable value for distributed energy resources; and disregards many values that should be included in any policy that purports to accurately reflect the benefits of distributed renewable energy.
“A major concern raised by the New York Energy Democracy Alliance throughout this process is that the proposed VDER policy will perpetuate inequities for low-income customers, people of color, and other New Yorkers who want to generate and use renewable energy, but face disproportionately higher barriers to renewable energy adoption. We are also concerned that the policy puts local solar installers and community organizations at a disadvantage, even when these local groups are poised to deliver community solar projects that maximize local economic development and other community benefits of renewable energy. The PSC’s newly adopted policy is so complex that it may only work for large firms big enough to devote substantial resources to sophisticated financial and energy market modeling.
“To its credit, the Commission acknowledged some of these issues and proposed potential remedies. These include a directive to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to provide $28 million in funding for community renewable energy with targeted funding to support low-income access. Additionally, the Commission opened the door for immediate consideration of increased compensation for projects that serve low-income customers. There were also some incremental improvements to the core of the policy itself that may smooth out the transition and allow more projects to become viable.
“We applaud the continued involvement and pressure brought by community groups, community solar developers, environmental organizations, local elected officials, small businesses and customers themselves who spoke up in the thousands by submitting comments and meeting with decision makers. We are proud of the improvements and additional funding won through these efforts, but we also remain concerned that the fundamental policy here is flawed and may be unworkable for many New Yorkers who are waiting with anticipation for the day they can fully participate in New York’s clean, renewable energy revolution.
“The Commission must stop kicking the can down the road when it comes to real opportunities for low-income people and people of color to be included in the transition to a renewable energy economy. Therefore, we intend to sustain our work to hold the Commission and the governor accountable for the real impact their policies have on the lives of New Yorkers most burdened by our dirty and expensive energy system. We commit to working with the Commission and NYSERDA to move concrete remedies forward to uphold the governor’s commitment that ‘all New Yorkers, regardless of their zip code or income, have the opportunity to access clean and affordable power.’”
The full text of the Commission’s VDER Order can be found here: http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/Common/ViewDoc.aspx?DocRefId=%7b5B69628E-2928-44A9-B83E-65CEA7326428%7d
About the New York Energy Democracy Alliance
The New York Energy Democracy Alliance is a collaboration of community-based organizations, grassroots groups, and policy experts working together to move our state toward a renewable, equitable, affordable and local energy system. Our current focus is on building public participation in the historic overhaul of state energy policy that Gov. Cuomo, the PSC, and NYSERDA are pursuing, in order to ensure that all New Yorkers—including low-and moderate-income communities and communities of color— can be part of the process, and benefit from it.
Current members include:
- Affordable Housing Partnership Homeownership Center
- Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE)
- Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition
- Catskill Mountainkeeper
- Center for Social Inclusion
- Citizen Action of New York
- Citizens’ Environmental Coalition
- Citizens for Local Power
- Co-op Power
- Fossil Free Tompkins
- Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES)
- Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
- Long Island Progressive Coalition
- New York State Sustainable Business Council
- Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson
- Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
- People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo
- Sane Energy Project
- Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development
- Syracuse United Neighbors (SUN)
- WE ACT for Environmental Justice