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New York State Rolling Out Plan To Make It More Affordable For School Districts To Install Solar

New York State has begun the roll out of a new program that will open opportunity for school districts across the state to participate in free consultations to see if implementing solar power is a beneficial option for them.

Mayor de Blasio announced, this week, a major solar investment for city schools, which is a key component of a new green buildings plan. The mayor says the new installations, funded by the city and the NY-Sun Initiative, are the first steps toward installing 100 megawatts of new solar power on city-owned buildings. This is part of the city’s long-term goal to create an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Photo courtesy of the City of New York.

The program, called K-Solar, is a joint partnership between the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), in cooperation with the NYS Education Department.

NYPA says that it’s offering every school district in the state free access to its energy advisory consultation services, which will include:

  • collaborating with districts to see if their schools are suitable for solar energy.
  • estimating the potential savings on a school district’s future energy bills.
  • working with school districts to find suitable solar companies to partner with.

NYPA said the schools that will be the best candidates for the program will have adequate open space either in the yard, parking lot, or roof. These areas will also preferably be south-facing with no shading or obstructions.

Also, another feature of the K-Solar program is that the school districts that decide to go forward with the systems will not be responsible for the installation and maintenance costs.

NYPA says that it will assist each school in developing a cost effective arrangement with a solar developer so that the school won’t be responsible for any initial system costs or ongoing operation and maintenance costs. A school will only pay for the electricity that is generated by the solar power system.

As part of the program, NYPA has issued a request for qualifications from developers who are interested in installing solar panels in school buildings. A deadline for responding to the solicitation is Oct. 9. The solicitations can be accessed on NYPA’s Procurement webpage.

A solar developer will own, operate, and maintain a solar power system that is installed at a school and sell 100 percent of the solar electricity produced at the school to the school at a contracted price for a period of 20 to 25 years.

As a benefit to the solar installers, the program will also assist them in applying for federal and state tax credits, which could offset as much as 50 percent or more of the installation costs of the photovoltaic systems. NYPA adds that the solar developers that qualify for these incentives will also be required to “pass a portion of these savings on to the schools.”

As of last month, 87 school districts have registered for the K-Solar program, representing over 350 individual schools in 35 counties.

K-Solar is a program under the NY-Sun Initiative, whose aim is to increase the number of solar electricity systems across the state – through programs designed to reduce fees and other startup costs in the industry.

Last April, Governor Cuomo committed nearly $1 billion to the NY-Sun Initiative. Among the initiative’s goals are to streamline the permitting and inspection processes, decrease installation and component costs, as well as provide local training and tools to support community solar projects.

Additional Resource

Mayor de Blasio Announces Major Solar Investment at City Schools - NYC.gov


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