In May 2007, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) issued an order instituting a proceeding to develop an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS). The order set a goal of reducing electricity usage in New York by 15% from projected electricity usage in 2015. After examining comments and input from staff and stakeholders, the PSC issued a further order in June 2008 establishing detailed program targets, ratepayer collections to fund energy efficiency programs, and various other protocols for the EEPS.
From the EEPS, flowed numerous energy efficiency and renewable energy programs designed to promote the adoption of these technologies. These programs are funded through surcharges on retail sales of electricity and natural gas. Collections from electricity customers are administered as an addition to the New York System Benefits Charge (SBC) which funds public policy initiatives not expected to be adequately addressed by New York’s competitive electricity markets such as energy programs targeting efficiency measures, research and development and the low-income sector. Under the June 2008 order, collections amount to an average of $159 million annually from October 1, 2008 through December 31, 2011.
The collections are intended to support a combination of “fast-track” programs, some of which will be administered by state utilities ($74.2 million) and some which will be administered by NYSERDA as expansions or additions to existing SBC programs ($85.2 million). Beyond these fast-track programs, additional collections for further programs were estimated at an average of $170 million annually through 2011 leading to total expected costs of roughly $330 million annually. As described by a July 2011 Staff White Paper, actual program collections for approved programs totaled roughly $286 million annually in 2011. It is from these programs that residents of New York receive public assistance in helping to install energy efficient measures and purchase renewable energy systems, such as solar.
How popular is solar energy in New York?
The progressive legislation in New York has paved the way for solar growth in the state. With 56 megawatts of solar power installed in New York between 2009 and 2010, New York ranked seventh in the country in total installed solar capacity so solar has definitely taken hold in the state. Frankly, however, New York could do more to help promote the adoption of solar, similar to New Jersey which installed approximately 260 megawatts of solar between 2009 and 2010. Nevertheless, more and more residents of New York sign on for solar, green energy will become more and more affordable in the state, driving the costs down and helping the natural environment simultaneously.