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Is community solar in trouble?

News Alert: Is community solar in trouble?

Despite deep concerns raised by the Energy Democracy Alliance, a recent state order replaces net metering with a complex set of rules that could cripple small-scale renewable energy development.

BACKGROUND: The Public Service Commission (PSC) has just adopted a “Value of Distributed Energy Resources” (VDER) policy that sets the statewide value of renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind. VDER puts local installers and community organizations at a disadvantage, by rapidly phasing out net metering – the current simple compensation mechanism – and replacing it with a policy so complex that it may only work for large firms capable of devoting substantial resources to sophisticated financial and energy market modeling.

MITIGATING FACTORS: To its credit, the PSC acknowledged some of these issues and proposed potential remedies. These include a directive to NYSERDA (the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) to provide $28 million in funding for community renewable energy, with targeted funding to support low-income access. Additionally, the Commission opened the door for immediate consideration of increased compensation for projects that serve low-income customers. There were also some incremental improvements to the core of the policy that may smooth out the transition and allow more projects to become viable. BUT . . .

Is this a signal that the state is walking back stated goals for widely available and affordable distributed energy, in favor of centralized and utility-scale projects that favor Wall Street?


CONCERNS REMAIN: This ruling is part of Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), a process launched by Governor Cuomo, whose stated goals were to create a clean, resilient, and more affordable energy system in New York. The Energy Democracy Alliance is concerned that the rapid pace of net metering phase-out and the complexity of the new policy jeopardizes these goals.

The proposed VDER policy could perpetuate inequities for low-income customers, people of color, and other New Yorkers who want to generate and use renewable energy.


Action steps coming soon!

About the New York Energy Democracy Alliance  

The New York Energy Democracy Alliance is a collaboration of community-based organizations, grassroots groups, and policy experts working together to move our state toward a renewable, equitable, affordable and local energy system. Our current focus is on building public participation in the historic overhaul of state energy policy that Gov. Cuomo, the PSC, and NYSERDA are pursuing, in order to ensure that all New Yorkers—including low-and moderate-income communities and communities of color— can be part of the process, and benefit from it.

Current members include:


  • Affordable Housing Partnership Homeownership Center
  • Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE)
  • Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition
  • Catskill Mountainkeeper
  • Center for Social Inclusion
  • Citizen Action of New York
  • Citizens’ Environmental Coalition
  • Citizens for Local Power
  • Co-op Power
  • Fossil Free Tompkins
  • Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES)
  • Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
  • Long Island Progressive Coalition
  • New York State Sustainable Business Council
  • Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson
  • Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
  • People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo
  • Sane Energy Project
  • Solstice
  • Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development
  • Syracuse United Neighbors (SUN)
  • WE ACT for Environmental Justice