A coalition of over 40 elected officials, industry organizations, environmental groups, public advocates, and electricity ratepayers recently gathered at the Cradle of Aviation Museum to call on the Long Island Power Authority to reverse its recent decision to devalue compensation for community solar by almost 30 percent.
The community solar program on Long Island has been providing subscribed ratepayers with discounted clean energy from local solar projects since 2016. Yet in June 2019, the LIPA Board of Trustees voted to approve a community credit that is a fraction of what ratepayers receive in neighboring New York City and Westchester County. This change is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020, and will effectively halt community solar development on Long Island unless LIPA acts to adjust the program by providing fair, equitable and minimally viable compensation for these projects.
Today, Long Island has only 14 community solar projects in development, while neighboring Con Edison territory has almost 55. According to a utility-issued calculator, LIPA’s changes in compensation would result in a solar devaluation of approximately 30% from current levels and compared to the value of fossil fuel energy today. This proposed change comes just months after New York passed the world-leading Climate Legislation and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which requires New York to transition to 100% carbon-free energy by 2040.
If LIPA’s proposed compensation plan goes forward, it would bring Long Island community solar projects to a standstill. Ratepayers would be required to pay a premium compared to what they pay PSEG-LI today. The community solar sector will simply not get off the ground on Long Island, and hundreds of thousands of residents and local organizations will be prevented from accessing clean energy. Moreover, the overall solar market on Long Island and associated job growth from this sector will continue to stagnate, contrary to growth trends in solar energy across the rest of New York and the country.
Stakeholders attended the LIPA board meeting immediately after convening at the museum to directly address the LIPA board with their concerns. The group is hopeful that it can work together with LIPA leadership to modify the tariff and provide community solar a fair valuation.