NY establishes office to expedite renewable project approval - Smart Energy Decisions

Regulation, Sourcing Renewables  -  April 7, 2020

NY establishes office to expedite renewable project approval

The State of New York has created an Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) that will expedite the process of approving new renewables projects larger than 25 MW and moving carbon-free electricity to load centers.

The ORES was approved with the new budget last week and will be housed within the Department of State, Utility Dive reported. Prior to the creation of this office, the process of siting new projects, which was last amended in 2011, could take up to two or three years.

With the creation of the ORES, complete applications will be acted upon within one year if they meet all eligibility requirements. 

"It could be that every project may have a few specific conditions that it must meet," Cullen Howe, senior renewable energy advocate for Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate & Clean Energy Program, told Utility Dive. "But it is true that providing more certainty to developers in terms of the kinds of conditions they will have to meet will make it easier and faster for these projects to navigate the process."

Projects that are 20 MW to 25 MW will have the option to use the current process, which is outlined in Article 10. Smaller renewables will continue to be permitted through the State Environmental Quality Review Act process and must meet local zoning requirements.

Those involved with this initiative see the potential for similar solutions in other states to address the issue of renewable energy projects getting bogged down in approval processes that ultimately delay construction.

"Streamlining the construction of renewables and the transmission that unlocks them are both needed and welcome developments," American Council on Renewable Energy President and CEO Gregory Wetstone told the publication. "Our hope is that renewable project siting will eventually be improved and streamlined across the entire U.S."  

The new law directs the Public Service Commission to establish a distribution and local transmission system capital program for each utility in need of local upgrades in their service territory and will apply a streamlined siting process, to be completed within nine months, for transmission infrastructure built within existing rights-of-way. The PSC will also work alongside the Department of Public Service, NYSERDA, the New York Power Authority, the Long Island Power Authority, the New York ISO and local utilities to identify cost-effective distribution and local and bulk electric system upgrades.

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