NYPA Accelerates Plans to Help New York Schools Tap into Solar

EC&M – Electrical Construction & Maintenance | Staff
March 2, 2017

Central New York, Long Island, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western New York Schools Have Opportunity to “Go Solar”

The New York Power Authority has announced that the opportunity for school districts in New York State to “go solar” will be expedited with the selection of two additional solar power vendors. Schools can reduce their energy costs by participating in Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s K-Solar initiative, a first-of-its kind program launched in January 2014, to combat climate change by promoting renewable energy use.

“Hundreds of school districts are ready to bring solar into their communities and reduce their energy bills and we are excited to work with each and every one,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “Making a commitment to solar energy requires no investment on a district’s part and by participating in the Governor’s innovative K-Solar program, schools are making a strong statement about the importance of renewable resources.”

To date, the K-Solar program, administered by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), has registered 380 districts that are interested in participating and saving energy. All 700 public districts as well as all non-public K-12 schools in the state are eligible to participate. NYPA works with each school district and matches them with a solar developer to move ahead with installation.

Twenty-five districts have signed 48 individual power purchase agreements with K-Solar developers and are ready to proceed with solar panel installations. In the latest development, NYPA is bringing two additional developers on board to expedite the process of bringing all the schools into the pipeline. The two new developers – selected by NYPA through a competitive bidding process – will work with onboarding additional districts.

Greenskies Renewable Energy will assist schools in Central and Northern New York and Long Island, and Solar Liberty will bring schools on-line in Western New York and the Southern Tier. SolarCity, which had been serving schools throughout the state to date, will continue to be the designated developer for the Hudson Valley, Capital Region and New York City.

Part of Cuomo's $1 billion NY-Sun initiative to build a sustainable solar energy industry in New York, the K-Solar program is a public-private partnership to make solar power more affordable for school districts. Schools receive the tools, technical expertise and access to financing to make “going solar” a realistic option.

“K-Solar supports Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading energy strategy by providing clean, renewable energy to local communities,” John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA, said. “It also teaches our children about the crucial role energy plays in their everyday lives so students and their families can make better informed energy choices.”

NYPA, which acts as an energy advisor, provides technical assistance and helps districts take full advantage of statewide incentives and high-volume pricing. The schools receive free site surveys and solar energy analysis, and pay no upfront costs for the installation of solar panels. Their only expense is for the electricity generated from the solar panels.

NYPA provides lists of registered schools to each area’s designated developer, which then conducts outreach and offers direction and their services. NYPA works with the developers regarding expectations and procedures and helps with marketing and outreach.

Any New York K-12 teacher may participate in a professional development workshop provided by NYPA. Materials and activities from these workshops assist teachers to incorporate renewable energy lessons into the classroom through science, technology, engineering and math instruction. More than 300 teachers received training in 2015 and 2016 with additional workshops scheduled in 2017 throughout the state.

K-Solar is a core component of Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy to build an energy system that is cleaner, more resilient and affordable. It also supports the Governor's Clean Energy Standard that requires half of all electricity used in the state to come from renewable resources by 2030. The program also supports the goals of Governor Cuomo’s STEM learning initiatives by enhancing student awareness of energy efficient and renewable technologies, promoting student engagement in clean technology and increasing interest in career opportunities in the energy field.