Long Island Gets Solar Feed-In Tariff

Long Island, NY is about to join the dozen or so US jurisdictions that have a feed-in tariff (FiT).

Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), the local utility, is getting ready to implement the "CLEAN Solar Initiative," pending approval of its Board of Trustees.

Starting July 1, CLEAN will pay a fixed rate of 22 cents per kilowatt-hour for 20 years from on-site solar systems. The goal is to add 50 megawatts (MW) of commercial-scale solar – the pilot Fit continues through 2013.

These long term power purchase contracts will be available for solar systems between 50 kilowatts (kW) and 500 kW, mid-sized installations that often fall through the cracks. They are too big for residential systems, which have net metering incentives and too small for utility-scale developers.

One the program reaches the 50 MW cap, or in 2014, LIPA will decide whether to keep, tweak or expand the initiative. The program is funded by a $0.45 cents charge on customer utility bills.

Governor Cuomo has called for NY State to quadruple on-site solar by 2013, and the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires 30% from renewables by 2015.

Long Island has 4,571 residential and 609 commercial solar systems. BP Solar built Long Island’s sole utility-scale solar plant, a 32 MW system (164,312 modules) at the US Dept of Energy’s Brookhaven National Lab, the largest on the East Coast. An additional 18 MW are being installed as solar carports in various locations in Suffolk County.

Palo Alto and Los Angeles recently launched CLEAN FiTs and Fort Collins is expected to start one this year. 10 other cities or states have FiTs in the US. 23 of the EU’s 27 countries use FiTs.

Streamlined Solar Permitting

Many towns on Long Island have also adopted a "Unified Solar Permitting Initiative," which streamlines the permitting process for installing solar.

All 10 towns and six villages in Suffolk County have adopted it along with nine villages in Nassau County.

Different regulations in each town and village creates confusion, delays and extra costs – the new standardized process that requires less paperwork makes it much easier for solar installations to move forward.

Read more about FiTs, which are now being called CLEAN programs in the US:

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