Groundbreaking Project to Accelerate Solar Adoption in NYC Announced at NYC Solar Summit

June 7, 2012

At the 6th annual NYC Solar Summit the City University of New York (CUNY), on behalf of New York City (NYC), presented SMART NY; a groundbreaking project to streamline solar adoption in NYC. ‘Solar Market Analytics, Roadmapping, and Tracking NY’ (SMART NY) is a collaboration of 30 partners and agencies* and is supported by a grant through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge; part of a national effort to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.

The SMART NY project has three distinct components designed to accelerate the adoption of solar in NYC: addressing the ‘soft costs’ to solar installations, developing the NYC Solar Portal, and the creation of an intelligent operations center for solar.

The largest barriers to installing solar in urban environments are the ‘soft costs’, also known as the non-hardware balance of systems costs (BOS). Through SMART NY,  a collaboration of NYC decision makers are working on a one year timeline to directly address the non-hardware BOS costs: permitting, interconnections, solar standards, net metering, financing, planning and zoning, in order to clear a path for rapid expansion of solar energy in NYC.

As a key part of the SMART NY Project, and in order to streamline the complex installation permitting process, software solutions company Procemx is developing the NYC Solar Portal in partnership with CUNY, Con Edison, the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the NYC Department of Buildings (DoB) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Con Edison is a key player in the NYC Solar Portal as part of its ‘100 Days of Solar’ initiative, which aims to reduce the solar application process to 100 days. The online, multi-agency permitting portal is a prototype designed to reduce the need for a solar installer to submit multiple time-consuming applications and marks the first time that city and state agencies are working together with a utility company on a one stop inter-agency process. The portal is scheduled for field testing in early Fall of 2012 and will allow for a more seamless transition to renewable energy.

Through SMART NY, CUNY Ventures, a CUNY Economic Development Corporation entity, has partnered with IBM to develop an intelligent operations platform that will result in customized analytics of key solar market indicators and barrier alerts. The new intelligent operations platform will help the City monitor and analyze the solar market through a virtual control room that will provide a dashboard view of key market indicators.  This will be accomplished using IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) for Smarter Cities, created by IBM in collaboration with cities around the world. With IBM’s IOC software, CUNY Ventures will access and analyze data from the NYC Solar Portal, data systems in solar empowerment zones, and the NYC Solar Map, putting in place a long-term solution designed to drive down the costs of solar deployment. Initially, five state and city entities will utilize the solar market analytics: CUNY, NYSERDA, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, Con Edison, the NYC DoB and the NYC EDC. CUNY Ventures aims to create a sustainable model that can incorporate additional data and provide analytics to help city leaders and utility planners integrate other forms of renewable energy and better manage city operations, leading to efficiencies in areas such as water, transportation and emergency response.

Collectively these SMART NY projects aim to enable the largest rooftop solar market in the country, lower installation costs and help provide clean renewable energy that can support America’s largest grid. Plans are in place for CUNY and its partners to replicate the SMART NY model throughout the state of New York.

“CUNY faculty helped develop the NYC Solar Map that displays the solar potential of every building in the city,” said City University of New York Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. “Now our CUNY team is working with our partners on groundbreaking solutions that can help New York accelerate the adoption of this clean renewable energy.”

“Installing solar energy in New York City used to be challenging, but with Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership and partners like those joining us today, we are becoming the premier location for urban solar investments” said Cas Holloway, New York City Deputy Mayor for Operations.  “We have cut red tape and offered targeted incentives, helping to spur an 800 percent increase in our solar energy capacity over the past six years.  Today’s Solar Summit is an exciting opportunity to engage with solar developers about how to build on this momentum.”

“Con Edison is proud to be at the forefront to simplify the approval process for customers looking to install solar projects,” said Craig Ivey, president of Con Edison. “If we want to encourage customers to use solar energy, we have to make the process as easy and affordable as possible.”

“Promoting sustainability is good economic development policy, while also being good for our planet,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “The NYC Solar Portal is an important part of our efforts towards this end, increasing efficiency in the installation process and making solar power a more viable option for New Yorkers. Together with our dedicated partners, we are ensuring that New York City continues on the path towards becoming a leader in sustainability for the 21st century.”

“I applaud CUNY for its leadership in assembling such an impressive coalition of partners in the SMART NY project,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA.  “Governor Cuomo has challenged us under NY-Sun to quadruple the amount of PV installations in New York State and to find ways to further reduce the balance-of-system costs associated with these installations.  We look forward to working in partnership with CUNY and New York City to achieve our mutual objective of increasing the use of solar energy throughout our State.”

“The New York Power Authority is proud to be a partner with CUNY and with the City since the inception of the NYC Solar America Program and its Solar Empowerment Zones,” said Gil C. Quiniones, president and chief executive officer, NYPA. “And now, through new endeavors such as today’s Solar Summit and the unveiling of SMART NY, we can look forward to coordinating efforts to lower the ‘balance of system’ costs that currently challenge solar development throughout the city and state. In this way, we will support and advance both the City’s efforts to promote large-scale solar energy market growth in New York City and Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative to quadruple the amount of customer-sited solar power installed annually by 2013 while focusing on reducing balance system costs statewide.”

“As people migrate to urban centers in greater numbers, demand increases on city infrastructures and resources,” said Craig Hayman, general manager, IBM Industry Solutions.   “Intelligent automation of key services such as energy, water, transportation and public safety is the solution to help meet these challenges.  Developing leadership in sustainable resources, as New York is doing with solar energy, serves as a model for meeting citizens’ needs while achieving the operational goals of the city.”

“Procemx is delighted that New York City and CUNY are moving forward with the next phase of the NYC Solar Portal using our MX application. As the software developer we are pleased to play such a prominent part in the City’s leadership in extending the contribution the small scale renewable energy generation will make in meeting urban power demands,” said Procemx CEO & Founder Iain Ritchie. “Effectively managing the multi-agency process in applications such as small scale renewable deployment is core to the value that MX provides.  This important step extends our commitment to New York City and builds upon our strong solutions in city operations and renewable energy.”

SMART NY builds on five years of work by the NYC Solar America City Partnership and the 2011 launch of the NYC Solar Map; an interactive online tool that maps the solar energy potential for the one million buildings in NYC. The Partnership is led by Sustainable CUNY and is comprised of CUNY, the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability and the NYC Economic Development Corporation with significant support by Con Edison, the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the NYC Department of Buildings (DoB), the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) and the New York Power Authority.

Con Edison and IBM were major sponsors of the sixth annual NYC Solar Summit. Keynote speakers at the summit were Robert M. Hallman, NYS Deputy Secretary for Energy and Environment and Christopher O’ Connor, Vice President Industry Solutions Software, IBM Smarter Cities. Panels included presentations on the details of the SMART NY working groups, Intelligent Operations and the New York Economy, and Shaping the New Energy Equation. An ‘Afternoon Conversation’ titled ‘Leveraging Federal, State and City Initiatives’ included Rachel Tronstein, Deputy Director of the SunShot Initiative, U.S. Department of Energy; Frank Murray, President & CEO, New York State Energy Research & Development Authority; Gil C. Quiniones, President & CEO, New York Power Authority; Robert LiMandri, Commissioner, NYC Department of Buildings; Sergej Mahnovski, Director of Energy Policy, New York City Office of the Mayor. A full list of speakers and sponsors can be found here: NYC Solar Summit

Speakers at the press conference included: NYC Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway; CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Allan Dobrin; U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Director, SunShot Initiative, Rachel Tronstein; Consolidated Edison President Craig Ivey;          New York Power Authority President & CEO Gil C. Quiniones; New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinsky; Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland; NYC Council Member Daniel Garodnick; IBM Industry Solutions & Smarter Cities Vice President Karen Parrish; Procemx CEO & Founder Iain Ritchie; CUNY Chief Information Officer Brian Cohen; CUNY University Director of Sustainability Tria Case

*SMART NY supporters and collaborators 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, Procemx, Mercury Solar, Solar Energy Systems, AeonSolar, Empire State Development, New York City Department of Finance, Community Environmental Center and more.

As this nation’s largest urban university, the City University of New York (CUNY) plays a transformational role in New York City’s sustainable future with an educational footprint that spans 24 academic institutions and over half a million students, faculty and staff. Sustainable CUNY is leading CUNY’s efforts through three key pillars: the CUNY Sustainability Project, city-wide Sustainable Energy projects and CUNY SustainableWorks, a commercialization program for sustainable and clean technology.