Governor Paterson Announces Plans for Largest Solar Energy Project in State History

Project Would Provide Enough Power for 6,500 Households and Reduce Carbon Emissions by 20,000 Tons Per Year – Supports Governor’s “45 by 15” Clean Energy Initiative

Governor Paterson's Contact: Errol Cockfield | | 212.681.4640 | 518.474.8418
LIPA Contact: Ed Dumas | | 516.719.9838

Photo of Governor Paterson enlarge

Governor Paterson speaking at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Governor David A. Paterson today announced that the largest solar energy project in New York State history is moving forward on Long Island, increasing the State’s total solar energy production threefold. The 50 megawatt (MW) project would provide enough power to sustain more than 6,500 households and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20,000 tons per year.

The solar project is consistent with Governor Paterson’s recently announced “45 by 15” program, which establishes the goal for the State to meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and renewable sources by the year 2015. A statewide focus on solar energy was also a core recommendation of Governor Paterson’s Renewable Energy Task Force in February 2008.

“This project is not only the largest of its kind in State history, it is also one of the first of its kind in our nation, proving once again that New York is at the forefront of the renewable energy revolution,” said Governor Paterson. “As I outlined in my State of the State address, our ‘45 by 15’ program is one of the most ambitious clean energy goals in the country, and we estimate that it will create 50,000 new jobs in New York.”

Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) officials declared the results of a competitive procurement marking the selection of BP Solar to provide 36.9 MW of solar energy which would be hosted on the federal property of Brookhaven National Laboratories (BNL). Additionally, enXco will supply 13.1 MW of solar energy from facilities constructed and operated on municipal, school and private properties across Long Island.

LIPA will start negotiations with both developers for 50 MW of solar photovoltaic energy through a power purchase agreement (PPA) for terms of 20 years with contracted deliveries to begin between June 1, 2009 and May 1, 2011. The solar energy will be produced by the selected developers of the solar photovoltaic systems and will be introduced onto the LIPA grid and purchased by LIPA.

Photo of Governor Paterson and officials enlarge

L to R: Department of Energy Brookhaven Site Office Manager Michael Holland, NYPA President Richard M. Kessel, Governor David Paterson, President and CEO of LIPA Kevin S. Law, Brookhaven National Laboratory Director Samuel Aronson and NY State Assemblyman Marc Alessi.

Kevin S. Law, President and CEO of LIPA, said: “I commend Governor Paterson for challenging LIPA to find ways to harness the power of the sun. This project will diversify Long Island’s energy portfolio, strengthen the local economy, transform the solar photovoltaic marketplace and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.”

LIPA’s solar project will accomplish the following goals:

  • Support the recommendations for solar power from Governor Paterson’s Renewable Energy Task Force;
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Reduce the consumption of fossil fuels;
  • Create clean energy jobs and advance renewable technologies; and
  • Utilize private and public non-residential roofs and/or other appropriate spaces for solar generating facilities.

To support and encourage the LIPA solar initiative, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will provide LIPA with $15 million and will continue to work with LIPA to identify other funds that may be eligible for use by LIPA to support the project.

Francis J. Murray, Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA, said: “Solar technology will help meet Long Island’s growing demand for electricity, while reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil. This investment is a critical component of Governor Paterson’s 45 by 15 initiative – meeting 45 percent of the State’s electricity requirements through a combination of energy efficiency and renewable sources by the year 2015.”

Julia Hamm, Executive Director of the Solar Electric Power Association, said: “LIPA’s plan to purchase 50 MW of solar electricity is substantial. To put it in perspective, as of the end of 2007, only three electric utilities in the U.S. had 30 or more megawatts of solar electricity on their grid. Utilities across the U.S. are beginning to realize the importance of solar energy to their future energy mix, and LIPA is right there at the forefront.”

The 50 MW of solar energy builds on the success of LIPA’s Solar Pioneer program, which boasts more than 1,700 participants and has resulted in more than $36 million in LIPA rebates. LIPA and Long Island have been leading the way in this regard, serving as a host to the greatest concentration of photovoltaic systems purchased throughout the entire State. Earlier this year, LIPA launched its Solar Entrepreneur program for businesses and municipal solar installations with capacities of up to 100 kilowatts (kW). In January, LIPA became the first utility in the State to implement commercial net metering through new tariff provisions that will allow commercial customers to sell excess power generated back to LIPA.

Summary of BP Project

BP Solar is proposing two large-scale commercial solar photovoltaic projects at the Brookhaven National Laboratory: “BNL Area 1” (a project sized at 18.7 MW) and “BNL Area 2” (a project sized at 18.2 MW).

In addition to the 36.9 MW, BP Solar will work independently with BNL to construct additional solar panels to help the Laboratory become more energy efficient and independent, and will partner with BNL in developing a solar photovoltaic R&D facility that will be used for research, education and outreach. This component adds another unique dimension to the project as it will help to advance the next wave of improved solar photovoltaic technology. This would include the testing of modules with different types of solar cells, glass encasements and wiring arrangements that could also yield information to support research on various battery and storage technologies.

All summary findings from the data collected under this BP-BNL research collaboration would be available to LIPA and the public, and would be used to help inform and improve the next generation of solar photovoltaic systems and design.

2009-10918  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom