NYC Wins Department of Energy “SunShot” Award to Make Solar Energy Cost Competitive

December 13, 2011 | The University

The City University of New York has won a grant award from the U.S. Department of Energy for SunShot NY, an aggressive plan to streamline solar installations. The ‘Rooftop Solar Challenge’ is part of the DOE SunShot Initiative, a national effort to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.

SunShot NY is an aggressive two-phased $3.4 million dollar plan designed to make solar energy more accessible and affordable for residents and businesses by driving down the administrative costs for installing photovoltaic (PV) systems. Using this Phase 1 award of $726,199 dollars from the DOE, SunShot NY partners aim to shorten the installation approval process in America’s largest city from one year to 100 days by creating an online multi-agency permit tracking portal, the first of its kind in NYC. SunShot NY is supported by over 30 organizations* representing utility companies, installers, government agencies, and industry leaders who will utilize strategic working groups to streamline the NYC permitting and interconnection processes; identify and implement improvements to interconnection and net metering standards; design and implement self-financing programs and policies and remove zoning obstacles.

In addition, CUNY Ventures will create an Intelligent IT platform for solar in NYC utilizing IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center™ (IOC) technology solutions. The IOC will use analytics to deliver real time data from sources such as the multi-agency portal and the NYC Solar Map, providing a searchable dashboard of key performance indicators and trends, allowing users to fine-tune current resource usage and quickly identify barriers. Upon successful completion in year one, the plan calls for SunShot NY to move into Phase 2, expanding this effort to other major jurisdictions in New York State with a goal of creating standards and streamlining the permitting process.

New York City, a U.S. DOE Solar America City, has realized a six-fold increase in solar production since 2007 under the leadership of the NYC Solar America City Partnership, who recently launched the NYC Solar Map. The Partnership is led by Sustainable CUNY under the direction of Tria Case, University Director of Sustainability, and is comprised of CUNY, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability, with the support of multiple other stakeholders through the NYC Solar America City Advisory Board. The NYC Department of Buildings has worked closely with CUNY since the inception of the NYC Solar America City Initiative and has implemented new initiatives to streamline the approval and installation process, including the creation of the NYC Development Hub, a state-of-the-art plan review center in Lower Manhattan.

“CUNY is proud to be working with leaders from across the state as we streamline the process of installing solar,” said Allan Dobrin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer for CUNY. “SunShot NY is a great example of how a public university, government agencies and private businesses can work together to create solutions and in doing so- provide stability to the renewable energy market and help grow the economy.”

“As a member of the Solar America City Partnership, we are thrilled that CUNY has secured this grant, which will lead to increased access to and affordability of solar energy in New York,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “The installation of photovoltaic systems across the City is helping to build our green economy, leading not only to job creation and economic investment, but also ensuring the sustainability of our City.”

“SunShot NY is a tremendous opportunity to help get more solar projects off the ground and onto buildings throughout New York City,” said Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri. “We are proud to work with CUNY as we continue to streamline procedures for those who want to join in our efforts to transform energy usage in the City. Securing this grant means more access to solar energy, more jobs for New Yorkers and a better way of life for future generations to come.”

“A central goal of PlaNYC, our City’s comprehensive sustainability plan, is to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030. Fostering the market for solar energy is important to achieving this goal, and we have already made substantial progress, said David Bragdon Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. “SunShot NY is the next step—an innovative plan developed by numerous city agencies, industry leaders and led by CUNY that can help to transform solar from a niche market in our overall energy mix to a widely distributed energy resource with significant penetration.”

NYSERDA is committed to the NYC Solar America City Partnership, providing support for creation of the New York City Solar Map and the designation of NYC Solar Empowerment Zones, as well as helping fund the prototype portal for the Rooftop Solar Challenge. “Congratulations to CUNY and all the partners involved in SunShot NY. This project is a collaborative effort among city, state, federal, utility and corporate partners that will make solar energy more accessible and affordable for New York City residents and will serve as a showcase to promote solar opportunities throughout the state,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA. “Working together, New York State has made considerable progress toward the goal of easily-deployable solar power over the past few years, and this award will allow us to build on that momentum.”

Con Edison helped fund the prototype developed by Procemx, for the multi-agency portal and has provided significant technical support to the Solar America City partnership activities since 2007. “We want to make choosing and installing solar power easier for our customers,” said John Mucci, Con Edison’s vice president for Manhattan Electric Operations. “Solar projects promote cleaner air and reduce carbon emissions, and we are happy to be a partner in this project.”

“The NYC Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) is working with developers in New York City to integrate solar projects into brownfield redevelopment projects,” said Director Daniel Walsh of OER. “The collaborative efforts of SunShot NY will make it easier to attract developers and ease solar adoption which ultimately will improve the quality of life for New Yorkers.”

*Organizations offering commitment or support include: The Mayor’s Office of New York City, The City University of New York, New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning & Sustainability, Consolidated Edison, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, New York City Department of Buildings, New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, International Business Machines (IBM), Procemx, FJC, The Solar Energy Consortium, CUNY Ventures, New York City Department of City Planning, New York Power Authority, Long Island Power Authority, Central Hudson, National Grid, Fire Department of New York, Landmarks Preservation Commission, New York City Office of Environmental Remediation, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Conference of Mayors, Mercury Solar, Solar Energy Systems, AeonSolar, Empire State Development, New York City Department of Finance, Community Environmental Center and more.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university.  Founded in New York City in 1847 as The Free Academy, the University has 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health. The University serves 270,952 academic credit students and 269,808 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. More than 1 million visitors and 2 million page views are served each month by www.cuny.edu, the University’s website.