New York awards $1.4 billion to 26 renewable energy projects

New York (Platts)--9 Mar 2018 703 pm EST/003 GMT

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Friday announced that 26 large-scale renewable energy projects were selected to help the state meet its clean energy goals, and he pushed back against the Trump administration's offshore oil and gas drilling plans.

"We believe the future is a clean energy economy, and New York is going to lead a counter-movement to what this administration is doing to the environment and illuminate the path forward," Cuomo said during an event that was webcast from New York University.

The renewable energy projects consist of 22 utility-scale solar farms, three wind farms and one hydroelectric project that will collectively add over 1,380 MW of capacity. One of the wind farms incorporates an energy storage component, which marks the first time a large-scale renewable energy project has included storage in New York State, according to a statement. Calpine Corp. will build the 122-MW Bluestone Wind project, coupled with 6.2 MW of energy storage, in the towns of Windsor and Sanford.

The projects were awarded in response to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's 2017 Renewable Energy Standard request for proposals issued in June 2017. This was the first RFP under the state's Clean Energy Standard, which mandates 50% of New York's electricity must be generated from renewable energy sources by 2030.

The weighted average price was $21.17/MWh over the 20-year term of the awarded contracts. Several projects will break ground as early as April 2018, and all projects are expected to be operational by 2022. The winning bids were selected from a pool of 88 applications from 30 clean energy developers. SOLICITATION GIVES UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR A BIG BOOST

New York's total installed solar capacity, including residential, utility-scale and non-residential solar installations, is 1,176 MW, according to data through third-quarter 2017 from the trade group Solar Energy Industries Association.

An incremental 645 MW of utility-scale solar capacity from the 22 solar projects selected will significantly increase the state's total. The results of the solicitation demonstrate that large-scale solar power is "now economically viable across New York State for the first time," according to the statement.

NYSERDA will issue the next solicitation for large-scale renewable energy under the Clean Energy Standard on April 25, 2018. To help meet the state's commitment to deploying 1,500 MW of energy storage by 2025, NYSERDA is encouraging proposals that cost-effectively pair renewable energy with advanced energy storage technologies.

NYSERDA anticipates making awards in September and issuing a subsequent solicitation, if needed, in November. CUOMO ASKS FOR OFFSHORE DRILLING EXEMPTION WITH HELP FROM AL GORE

In addition to announcing the renewable energy project selections, Cuomo formally requested an exclusion from the five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program proposed by the Trump administration.

In January 2018, the federal government introduced its offshore drilling plan, which proposes to make over 90% of the total US offshore acreage open to oil and gas drilling. The plan would open two North Atlantic Coast areas adjacent to New York for fossil fuel exploration. An exclusion from the offshore drilling program was granted to Florida shortly after its launch on the grounds that the Sunshine State heavily relies on tourism as one of the nation's top ocean economies.

New York State "strongly opposes" the Department of the Interior's offshore leasing program as it "poses an unacceptable threat to New York's ocean resources, to our economy and to the future of our children," according to the statement.

"His [Governor Cuomo's] vision and leadership stand in stark contrast to the Trump administration's malignant mission to make us even more dependent on the dirty and destructive fossil fuels," former US Vice President Al Gore said.

In his comments, Gore said coal is receding and gas is being "outcompeted in the marketplace by electricity from renewables." Many are predicting that by the end of 2018, electricity from solar is going to be one cent/kWh, which is "like a quarter of the cost of electricity from burning fossil fuels," Gore said. INDEPENDENT POWER PRODUCERS PLEASED WITH THE OUTCOME

"The proof is in the pudding: competition brings out the best in developers," Gavin Donohue, president and CEO of trade group Independent Power Producers of New York, said in an email.

"If there were any questions about the effectiveness of fixed-price REC contracts, today those questions were answered. Competition leads to innovation, which ultimately leads to wins for New Yorkers at lowest cost," he said. -- Jared Anderson,

-- Edited by Rocco Canonica,

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