New York Brings Solar to Schools with K-Solar Program

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New York has been attempting to effectively integrate solar into its grid for some time, and after a five-year campaign, a $1 billion, 3 GW, solar program has been approved. The NY-Sun Initiative is looking to fundamentally restructure the New York electric grid with distributed generation at its center. This is very similar to an effort being made in Virginia by Green Mountain Power and NRG Energy to create a microgrid for the town of Rutland.

Under the NY-Sun initiative, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced the rollout of K-Solar, a landmark program to help public school districts throughout New York State lower their energy costs with clean, local power. The program will provide K-12 schools with the tools, technical expertise, and access to financing they need to make solar a realistic and affordable option. To date, a total of 40 school districts have registered to participate in the program, representing nearly 200 schools in communities across the state.

“New York is becoming a national leader in the solar industry, and today we’re taking another major step forward by giving schools across the state the resources they need to tap into this innovative technology,” Governor Cuomo said. “Increasing the use of renewable energy at our schools will both protect the environment and modernize our electrical grid. I encourage all school districts to apply for this assistance today.”

K-Solar is a joint partnership between the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), working with the New York State Education Department. NYPA is offering every New York State school district free energy advisory services to collaborate with school personnel in determining if solar energy is suitable for their district. The authority will work closely with the districts and the solar industry to secure the most attractive solar financing. These services will be free to schools, with the only costs being for the electricity generated from the installed solar panels. There is no limit to the number of public school districts that can participate in the program.

NYPA has issued a request for qualifications from developers who would install solar panels on school buildings. The deadline for responding to the solicitation is October 9. The solicitation can be accessed on NYPA’s Procurement webpage.

NYPA President and Chief Executive Officer Gil C. Quiniones said, “With the new K-Solar program, schools will have an expert partner, at no cost, to take full advantage of statewide assistance to make solar installations a reality for their districts.”

NYSERDA administers the statewide NY-Sun Initiative program, which will lower the overall costs of the installations, and the State Education Department will work with the schools to streamline the solar permitting process.

Due to its no-cost assessment, there is no downside for schools applying to this program. And while not every school that has applied will be a good fit for solar, this is still a huge victory for every school that is.