In step with the Obama Administration goal to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Con Edison of New York has filed a proposal with the Public Service Commission (PSC) for an 18-month solar energy pilot program, with the goal of generating 12 megawatts (MW) of solar electricity by 2011. One megawatt can power approximately 1,000 homes.
The pilot program targets homes, businesses, and Con Edison’s own facilities. The initial solar proposal will generate up to 5 MW from large installations of 200 kilowatts (kW) or more; 5 MW from smaller installations, primarily for residential or small to medium commercial customers; and 2 MW on Con Edison facilities in daytime peak-electric use neighborhoods.
Stimulus appropriations, federal and New York City tax incentives, and New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) funds are expected to defray the estimated $20 million to $25 million initial pilot program costs, according to Con Edison.
The utility’s filing this week supports solar power recommendations from Governor Paterson’s Renewable Energy Task Force and the City’s PlaNYC energy goals. Last year, New York City’s Department of Administrative Services issued a RFP for private solar developers to purchase, install, own and maintain solar panels on city-owned buildings in all five boroughs as part of PlaNYC.
The filing notes that the pilot program is intended to provide a “jumpstart” for solar installations. The program will study the potential impact of solar installations on the electric grid’s most heavily-used sections; evaluate cost and available funding for solar generation, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of fossil fuels. It is also expected to evaluate customer interest in solar and drive more extensive projects in the future.
However, in other parts of the country, there are concerns about utility-owned solar generation. Adam Browning, co-founder and executive director for Vote Solar Initiative, shared his viewpoint with the Los Angeles Times about the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s solar energy program.
Still, California is on the forefront of solar installations. Last year, Southern California Edison, for example, announced plans to install 250 MW of solar panels on 65-million square feet of roofs on commercial buildings.