New York’s Plan for a Self-Sustaining Solar Industry

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Governor Cuomo recently announced that New York’s multiple solar programs are transitioning into the single, statewide NY-Sun Incentive Program. The decision is intended to support the $1 billion NY-Sun initiative and help grow the State’s already vibrant solar market. The intended outcome of the Governor’s program is to expand deployment of solar projects across the state, add more than 3,000 megawatts (MW) to the State’s solar capacity, which is enough to power 400,000 homes, and ultimately transform New York’s solar market into a self-sustaining industry.

With the launch of the program, Governor Cuomo intended to send “a clear message that New York is a leader in solar energy innovation.” Merging multiple programs into the NY-Sun Incentive Program is projected to further stimulate the development of solar projects across the state and “aid in New York’s transition to a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient energy grid.”

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El Paso Electric Company Issues 25 MW Solar RFP

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The El Paso Electric Company (EPE) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking turnkey proposals for the engineering, procurement and construction of two (2) utility-scale solar energy generating facilities, with a combined maximum capacity of up to twenty-five (25) megawatts (MW) on an alternating current (AC) basis.

The two (2) projects are to be constructed on land provided by EPE at separate, un-adjoined locations.  Bidders are to submit their proposal or proposals for EPE’s equity purchase of any or all two (2) projects for a combined output of up to 25 MW AC of generation, with 20 MW AC located at Fort Bliss, Texas and 3 to 5 MW AC at EPE’s Montana Power Station site in El Paso, Texas.  Continue reading this entry

IRS Releases New Guidance on Beginning of Construction

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The IRS recently released Notice 2014-46 (the Notice) which provides welcome guidance to tax equity investors and developers on the construction of wind, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas and certain hydropower and marine hydrokinetic energy projects for purposes of qualifying for the section 45 renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC), or the section 48 investment tax credit (ITC) in lieu of the PTC.

For these types of projects, in order to take advantage of the PTC or ITC, construction of the facility must have begun prior to January 1, 2014. As provided in earlier guidance released by the IRS (Notice 2013-29), taxpayers may demonstrate that they started construction timely either by beginning physical construction of a significant nature (the Physical Work Test) or incurring at least 5% of the total costs of the eligible property (the 5% Safe Harbor). In all cases, taxpayers must make continuous progress toward completion of the facility once construction has begun, or otherwise place the facility in service before January 1, 2016 (in which case continuous progress will be considered satisfied, pursuant to clarifications to Notice 2013-29 that were provided by the IRS in Notice 2013-60).   Continue reading this entry

Landmark Massachusetts Net-Metering Bill Goes Up in Smoke as Watered-Down Compromise Bill Is Agreed to on Last Day of Legislative Session

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An eleventh-hour compromise by the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee effectively gutted the highly publicized net metering and solar power bill, which, as proposed, was considered by many including the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) to be a boon for solar development in the nation’s fourth largest solar market in terms of both installed capacity and total jobs. The original bill, dubbed H.4185, mandated a 1.6 GW target of solar capacity by 2020, imposed a monthly minimum charge on all electric customers for distribution system maintenance, removed annual capacity restrictions on large solar projects, and transformed the current market-based SREC system to a fixed declining block grant structure (similar to a feed-in-tariff) administered by the Department of Public Utilities. In exchange, the original bill removed the cap on net-metering limits so that all excess power could be sold back to utilities at retail rates.

When the dust settled all that survived—although just barely—in the compromise bill (H.4385) is a slight raise to the net-metering cap from 3% to 5% of peak load for public installations and 3% to 4% for private installations. This increase is intended as a quick fix to the logjam of projects hitting the metering caps while still tightly controlling the overall pace of solar growth to appease utilities. With these changes, the bill was passed by the Massachusetts House and Senate and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick.  Continue reading this entry

Energy Innovation in the Northeast Boosts the Solar Market

U.S. Department of Commerce Sets Stage for New Countervailing Duties on Chinese Solar Panels

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey are pioneering some of the nation’s most interesting developments in the retail energy space today that have important implications for the solar industry.

In Massachusetts, the state has built an energy portfolio that now supplies 9% of electrical consumption from new renewable sources, including 600MW of installed solar. The state’s goal is to reach 1,600MW by 2020. New York is home to the largest solar farm on the east coast, a 37MW solar farm on Long Island, as well as the 17MW enXco Eastern Long Island Solar Project, which consists of seven solar projects. Further, New York is planning to build a 50MW solar farm on 250 acres of a closed land fill. As the solar market grows, so does market innovation and new approaches to retail energy.

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