New York Enacts The Power NY Act of 2011
On August 4, 2011, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed The Power NY Act of 2011 (A. 8510/S. 5844). The law does three things: (1) establish an on-bill recovery mechanism for the Green Jobs/Green New York program that uses Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) proceeds for energy efficiency projects; (2) reauthorize and modernize Article X of the Public Service Law regarding the siting of major electric generating facilities; and (3) require a study with respect to increasing solar photovoltaic generation in the state.
"On-bill" financing is a mechanism that allows utility customers to pay back loans for energy efficiency upgrades through a charge on their monthly utility bill. The law provides a mechanism that allows customers who take out loans pursuant to the Green Jobs Green New York Act to repay these loans through a charge on their monthly utility bill.
The new law also revives Article X of the Public Service Law, which creates an expedited, state-led program for permitting electric generating facilities while preempting local requirements. The revived Article X procedure covers facilities as small as 25 megawatts (down from the prior 80 megawatts threshold), and thus will cover most commercial wind facilities. Like the expired Article X, the new version centralizes and streamlines control over the siting of electric generating facilities. Once the Act has been triggered, projects are subject to the entire process of New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment and environmental justice review. Excluded from the Article's coverage are major electric generating facilities over which the federal government has siting jurisdiction (such as hydroelectric facilities, which are covered by the Federal Power Act, and nuclear facilities, which are under the purview of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission), nominal repairs to an electric generating facility that do not result in an increase in capacity of more than 25 megawatts, major electric generating facilities used solely for industrial purposes and constructed on lands dedicated to industrial uses (but not to exceed 200 megawatts in capacity), and facilities that had already applied for a license prior to the effective date of the Article. The revised version of Article X also makes important changes to the earlier version by seeking to address environmental justice issues in a systematic way.
The law also requires that a study be conducted with respect to increasing photovoltaic generation in the state. The law states that increasing solar energy generation "represents a significant opportunity for the development of the State's clean energy economic sector and the creation of new high technology jobs in New York" and authorizes NYSERDA, in consultation with the Department of Public Service, to conduct a study to increase generation from photovoltaic devices in New York.