April 6 2017
Clean Technology

Capital Region Emerges as Upstate NY’s Top Non-Residential Solar Power Generator

CEG Launches Campaign to Solarize Manufacturers

Non-residential solar projects have turned the Capital Region into one of the brightest spots in New York’s clean energy industry. The eight-county region leads upstate in not only the number of completed non-residential solar systems but also in the amount of power they can generate, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of data from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The Capital Region’s leading position in solar power generation capacity was largely driven by a wave of commercial/industrial system completions in 2016. To sustain this momentum, CEG is launching a new campaign – CEG SolarGen – to streamline the process and reduce the costs for the installation of solar systems at manufacturing facilities throughout the region’s eight counties.

The Non-Residential Sector

While residential projects accounted for nine out of 10 (90 percent) completed solar energy projects in the Capital Region as of Jan. 31, 2017, they accounted for less than half (47 percent) of its total installed solar power generation capacity. That is because residential projects generally have an installed capacity of 25 kilowatts or less.

Making up the difference are small commercial and commercial/industrial projects with an installed capacity of up to 200 kilowatts and more than 200 kilowatts, respectively. The total installed capacity for the Capital Region’s 7,581 residential projects was 56 megawatts, compared to 63.3 megawatts for its 811 non-residential systems. Rensselaer County had the region’s greatest number of completed non-residential systems (171), but Saratoga County had the highest non-residential installed capacity (12.9 megawatts).

Between 2003 and Jan. 31, 2017, the Capital Region had 787 completed small commercial solar energy projects, with an installed solar power generation capacity of 36 megawatts. Although the region ranked second among New York’s 10 regions for the number of completed small commercial systems (behind Long Island), it led the state in total installed capacity for this type of project.

Commercial/Industrial Projects Surge

During the same period, the Capital Region had 24 completed commercial/industrial systems with a total installed capacity of 27.3 megawatts. Fourteen, or 58 percent, of those commercial/industrial projects were completed in 2016. In upstate, only the Mid-Hudson region had more completed commercial/industrial systems, with a total installed capacity of 35.7 megawatts. Data for PSEG Long Island commercial/industrial systems was not available.

In 2016, the Capital Region added 14 completed commercial/industrial systems, compared to no completions the previous year. The 2015 lull in activity was likely attributable to Congress’s extension of the federal investment tax credit (ITC) late that year. The extended ITC provides a 30 percent credit for solar through 2019 and will be reduced to 25 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2021.

The Pipeline

As of Jan. 31, 2017, the Capital Region was positioned to more than double its non-residential installed capacity. The region had 218 small commercial and 47 commercial/industrial projects in the pipeline with an expected total installed capacity of 37.1 and 98.8 megawatts, respectively.

CEG SolarGen

CEG SolarGen is partnership with the Center for Economic Growth, NYSERDA and the nonprofit organization Energize NY. Through this initiative, CEG will educate businesses on the benefits of commercial/industrial solar systems and assist with their installation by streamlining the purchasing and contracting processes.

For this initiative, CEG will issue a request for proposals to solar system installers. The economic development organization and its partners will select one to two respondents, based on their pricing and technology. By connecting installers with commercial/industrial customers, CEG SolarGen will reduce solar installers’ marketing costs by connecting them with commercial/industrial customers. Similar residential programs have been run by municipalities throughout the nation and have been found to reduce project costs by 10 percent.

For more information about CEG SolarGen, contact CEG Energy and Sustainability Program Manager Peter Lion at 518-465-8975 X234 or peterl@ceg.org.

Don’t miss these insights into the trends that are shaping the Capital Region’s economy. Sign up for CEG’s e-news and follow us on:

Funding Partners