Initiative Will Reduce Solar Project Costs and Support Growth of Solar Industry

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), New York Power Authority (NYPA) and City University of New York (CUNY) today announced a partnership that has developed a NYS Unified Solar Permit that will reduce costs for solar projects by streamlining municipal permitting processes and support the growth of clean energy jobs across the state. The unified solar permit is part of Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative to quadruple in 2013 the amount of solar capacity in New York that was added during 2011.

Adoption of a standardized residential/small business solar permit is a key element to help New York municipalities remove barriers to local economic development in the growing solar industry. The standardized permit is expected to cut costs by creating a uniform permitting process in municipalities across the state. Installers in New York State have had to work with different permits and permitting processes in each of the State’s 1,550 municipalities, which increased the complexity of permitting and have caused project delays and added costs. Extensive work to map the current permit processes involved feedback from municipalities, the New York Conference of Mayors, the Association of Towns of the State of New York, utility companies, PV installers and other stakeholders.

A copy of the NYS Unified Solar Permit and procedures is available at Local Community ToolsLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.

NYSERDA and NYPA provided funding to CUNY to survey municipal officials to understand the photovoltaic (PV) permitting costs, procedures and issues, as well as to develop the permit. The funding will also support outreach to help municipalities adopt the new permit. Municipalities that adopt the unified permit and procedures are eligible for between $2,500 and $5,000, depending on population, through NYSERDA’s Cleaner, Greener Communities program to implement the new procedures. Applications will be accepted until September 30, 2014, or until funds are exhausted, through the Consolidated Funding ApplicationLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. (CFA).

“The unified solar permit is just one step Governor Cuomo is taking through the NY-Sun initiative to reduce the costs associated with solar installations beyond the actual module costs,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. “This standardized permit is a win-win for everyone. Installers and municipalities can now share in a streamlined process. Additionally, the collaboration between NYSERDA, NYPA and CUNY demonstrates the State’s commitment to making solar more affordable for all New Yorkers and is yet another example of how Governor Cuomo is truly making New York State ‘open for business’.”

“NYPA, through close coordination with NYSERDA, CUNY and Governor Cuomo, has worked diligently to advance the NY-Sun initiative,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “The growth of the renewable energy market is a major priority of the Governor and we look forward to additional steps, such as NYPA and NYSERDA’s current push to streamline permitting for even larger commercial solar electric systems.”

"We commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership in providing this important opportunity for the expansion of solar projects through innovative partnerships that emphasize cost-effectiveness and timely implementation," said interim Chancellor William P. Kelly of the City University of New York. “We look forward to working with officials across New York State to implement the solutions that encourage economic development in the rapidly growing solar industry.”

The new permit and implementation funding are available to communities across New York State, except for those that have already received funding from the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) for PV permitting. LIPA, the Nassau and Suffolk County Planning Commissions and a working collaborative of stakeholders and municipal officials from across Long Island have developed a unified solar permitting process as part of the Long Island Unified Solar Permitting Initiative (LIUSPI). The NYS Unified Solar Permit was based upon the Long Island form as well as the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards’ national best practices.

The NYS Unified Solar Permit is part of Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun “Balance of System “ program, which focuses on streamlining the inspection and permitting process for local officials that, just this last spring, made available $13.5 million for demonstration projects and training. “Balance of system” refers to the soft costs of projects, generally all the upfront costs of a solar project except the cost of the solar module itself.

In addition to the unified permit, NYSERDA and NYPA released $40 million dollars to promote research into reducing the overall equipment and installation costs so that in the future solar energy is competitive with other forms of electricity and will require no government subsidies.

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