The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) last night honored Sustainable CUNY with its Visionary of the Year Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes CUNY’s Smart Distributed Generation Hub, a collaborative effort with New York State and City agencies, utilities and industry to integrate solar power and storage into the New York infrastructure.
Sustainable CUNY is The City University of New York office that not only guides sustainability initiatives on the University’s 24 campuses, but also leads those efforts for New York City. SEPA is the second national organization to have recognized CUNY for its accomplishments in expanding solar power and solar+storage – batteries fed by photovoltaic cells during the day and, at night or during electricity outages, can power usage off the grid. Earlier this month, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council presented its 2017 3iAward for State and Local Government Achievement to Sustainable CUNY for its work to advance solar in New York City.
“When I signed on to the ‘We Are Still In’ commitment to support the critical goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, I knew that faculty and staff at The City University of New York were working hard to preserve our city’s environment, which of course doesn’t stop at the city limits,” said Chancellor James B. Milliken. “The better job we do in New York City to use clean energy and reduce greenhouse gasses and fossil fuels, the better everyone will be. Our future depends on the kinds of actions that our University, city and state are already taking to create a clean-energy future.”
Tria Case, the University Director of Sustainability and Energy Conservation, added, “Sustainable CUNY’s role, as a trusted third party, has never been more important. Despite the ever-changing political and atmospheric climate, the demand for power is unabated. The NYC Solar Partnership is an ongoing strategic effort to work collaboratively with NYC and NYS agencies, Con Edison, the industry and other organizations to advance solar, and now solar+storage and helps address climate change.” A SEPA video on CUNY’s role in the effort can be viewed here:
Now in its ninth year, the SEPA Power Players Awards recognize utilities, their industry partners, individuals and other stakeholders on the front lines of energy transformation in the United States that are significantly advancing knowledge of or access to distributed energy resources that benefit electricity consumers and the grid.
Chosen by an independent panel of seven judges with diverse experience in the electric power industry, Sustainable CUNY and winners in six other categories were honored during SEPA’s Grid Evolution Summit: A National Town Meeting in Washington, D.C.
Sustainable CUNY formed the Distributed Generation Hub in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to help provide resiliency to NYC by developing a streamlined process for integrating solar+storage into the infrastructure and the grid. Working collaboratively, the Hub has already developed significant resources, including a NYC Energy Storage Systems locator on the NY Solar Map and Portal (also developed by Sustainable CUNY). It also created a roadmap for integrating and tracking resilient solar systems and conducted analysis for deploying resilient solar electric systems on designated critical infrastructure facilities. This was done, in part, under a grant in 2015 from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative Solar Market Pathways, along with state and city funds.
Sustainable CUNY is the lead agency in the NYC Solar Partnership, which was formed to remove barriers to solar in the city more than a decade ago by the City University of New York, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Since then, the partnership worked with regulatory agencies to streamline the installation process and lower costs. For example, professional certification at the NYC Department of Buildings cut review time from more than 24 business days to less than 24 hours. As a result of this growth, the city announced a new city solar of 1,000 megawatts by 2030, and the city set its first energy storage deployment target of 100 megawatts by 2020 to support resiliency during outages.
By 2016, solar capacity had quadrupled in just two years, due in large part to the Partnership’s work with regulatory agencies to streamline the installation process and lower costs. Among them was enactment of professional certification at the NYC Department of Buildings, which cut review time from more than 24 business days to less than 24 hours. As a result of this growth, the city announced a new city solar of 1,000 megawatts by 2030, and the City set its first energy storage deployment target of 100 megawatts by 2020 to support resiliency during outages.
Sustainable CUNY’s solar ombudsmen train city employees and other officials throughout the state via the New York State Energy Research Development Authority-supported PV Trainers Network. They have begun workshops throughout the five boroughs that educate the public on solar, and the opportunities through Solarize NYC and Shared Solar NYC. Sustainable CUNY also works regularly with the Fire Department of New York and the Department of Buildings to develop guidelines to clarify how solar, and now solar+storage, can be safely installed within the requirements of the New York City Codes.
BY THE NUMBERS:
At the beginning of 2014, there were 24 megawatts of solar installed in NYC, representing 1,037 installations. NYC has now surpassed 110 megawatts of solar capacity, representing 9,700 individual installations.
The cost of installing solar in NYC dropped from $5.06 per watt in 2014 to $4.32 per watt by the end of 2016.
A decade ago there were only five installation companies in NYC; now there are more than 60 that employ more than 2,700 people.