Long Island Wants More Solar


The solar carport at Suffolk County. Courtesy LIPA.Last Friday, July 12 the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) said it wants more solar—a lot more solar for the small island. The island’s electric utility announced its CLEAN Solar Initiative-II (CSI-11), a program that will provide a feed-in tariff for 100 megawatts of solar projects between 100 kilowatts and 2 megawatts. And that’s just for now. The utility also is planning to issue requests for proposal for another 300 megawatts of renewable energy.

The newly announced CSI-II follows on the heels of the first version of the CSI, and LIPA’s Solar Pioneer and Entrepreneur programs, which have led to 6,500 installations on homes and other buildings on the Island. The first round of CSI called for up to 50 megawatts of PV to be incentivized under CSI. The city also installed a 32 megawatt PV farm at Brookhaven National Lab and solar carports on Suffolk County parking lots.

“This next generation of LIPA’s Clean Solar Initiative is envisioned to bring additional clean energy resources on Long Island, diversifying and cleaning Long Island’s energy supply and deferring investments in the power grid,” explained LIPA chief operating officer John McMahon.

Under CSI-II proposals for projects 100 kilowatts up to 2 megawatts can qualify for the feed-in tariff (FiT), which will be at a “market clearing price.” In project proposals bidders will set the rate they think their project can be financed at. For the first round of the program the FiT was set at 22 cents per kilowatt hour generated, for instance.

“This is yet another major milestone in Long Island’s solar energy history. When completed, Long Island will have a distributed solar power plant which will generate reliable and clean electricity for decades to come, using our abundant sunshine instead of fossil fuels,” said Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island. “Solar electric systems are a proven technology not only for individual rooftop installations but also for larger, utility-scale applications.”

LIPA also is trying to get more solar in energy constrained areas. “Reducing the load constraint in this area will help defer, reduce or eliminate the need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in building new generation, infrastructure, and transmission and distribution lines.” To entice projects in that region, LIPA is offering those projects a price premium of approximately 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.
“LIPA’s recognition that distributed solar provides at least 7 cents per kilowatt-hour in avoided transmission and central generation costs makes clear to the rest of the country that the locational value of wholesale distributed generation is undeniable and significant,” said Craig Lewis, executive director of the Clean Coalition.

LIPA plans to start taking applications for the initiative Sept. 30, and plans to close program on Jan. 31, 2014.

At the same time, LIPA is planning to offer incentives for up to 300 megawatts of renewable energy by the end of the year. The other offerings will be a 20 megawatt FiT for wind, fuel cells and other renewables. And it’s preparing a request for proposals for up to 280 more megawatts of clean energy.