Green Innovations

Developing renewable and clean technology companies in New York

Monday, May 3, 2010

NYPA CEO Announces Strong Response To Solar Power Request For Proposals, Bids Now Being Evaluated

New York Power Authority (NYPA) President Richard M. Kessel recently announced that NYPA received 43 proposals for development of up to 100 megawatts (mw) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, for a fivefold increase of the current amount of installed PV generation in New York State. The bids were in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) that NYPA issued in January for distributed solar generation systems whose output will be the equivalent of the electricity that would be required for meeting the needs of approximately 15,000 average homes.

"The overwhelming response that we received from the solar power industry puts this project on a solid footing, with the initial solar installations expected to begin later this year," Kessel said.  The Power Authority has begun the process of evaluating the proposals on the basis of the requirements of the RFP, whose bid submittal deadline was last week. It expects to make preliminary selections by this summer, with the decisions based on price and various other factors. This includes bidders' demonstrated record of developing, owning and operating solar power generating systems, and their plans for identifying and arranging for the use of host sites in the location categories specified by NYPA for the solar installations.

The Power Authority is also interested in the plans for using local materials and labor for the installation, operation and maintenance of the equipment, as well as additional economic development benefits. To advance this effort, NYPA has initiated a business registry, which provides an opportunity for New York State manufacturers and service providers to connect with solar power developers and take part in this growth industry and initiative. To date, over 200 companies have joined the solar registry.

Recommendations to the NYPA Trustees of the bidder awards are expected to be made at the board's September meeting. Further details on the solar power initiative are available on the NYPA Web site at

The roof- and ground-mounted PV arrays will be installed at public or private kindergarten- through-Grade 12 schools, public universities and colleges, state and local government facilities, and municipal and rural electric cooperative systems—community-owned electric systems in Western New York and other parts of the state that benefit from low-cost NYPA hydropower. In addition to the Buffalo-Niagara region and 11 other counties in Western New York, the identified regions for hosting the solar generating systems are Northern New York, Central New York, Southeastern New York and New York City.

The PV systems will be owned and operated by the developers, with the Power Authority purchasing the generating output under 20-year power purchase agreements. NYPA will also enter into contracts with the project hosts, such as schools where the PV arrays are located, for the sale of the electricity from the systems. In instances involving the municipal and rural electric systems, the solar power is expected to provide support for the local electric distribution grid operated by those systems, rather than the power being contained to a single host site.

The generating capacity of the site installations is expected to vary from 100 kilowatts (kw) to five megawatts (1 mw equals 1,000 kw), with the installations occurring through 2014.

The 100 mw of solar power are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45,000 tons per year, adding to the significant role that the Power Authority has played in removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere from energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives that it has undertaken throughout the state. These investments are reducing carbon emissions by more than 766,000 tons per year, furthering NYPA's credentials as one of the cleanest utilities in the country from its significant hydropower generating capacity. This includes the Niagara and St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt projects in Lewiston and Massena, which met approximately 15 percent of the state's electricity needs last year.

NYPA has spearheaded the installation of 36 PV systems at public facilities in various parts of the state, from the Buffalo Museum of Science to the Executive Mansion in Albany to the Power Authority's administrative office building in White Plains. It is currently partnering with the University at Buffalo to install 5,000 PV panels to generate power for a total of 735 student apartments housing nearly 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It also is teaming with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority on a solar installation at the transit agency's Frontier Garage in Buffalo. Both installations are being undertaken by a Buffalo-area firm, Solar Liberty of Williamsville.

The Power Authority's efforts to spur development of solar power have also been reflected by recent allocations of low-cost Niagara hydropower to Sunworks Solar to encourage the construction and operation of a $200 million solar panel manufacturing plant in Western New York to create 175 permanent clean energy jobs; to Globe Specialty Metals for the company's reopening and expansion of a $60 million facility in Niagara Falls that will manufacture silicon for solar power systems and create 500 jobs; and to Precision Electro Minerals, a Niagara Falls manufacturers of fused silica, for solar-panel grade silicon and other industrial products, for creating 13 additional jobs.