Renewable Energy’s Role in the COVID-19 Economic Recovery
Outside the U.S., New York State leads every country on the globe in COVID-19 cases. But despite dealing with a historic health crisis that could put everything else on the back burner, state officials are determined to keep New York moving forward on climate action.
On April 3, 2020, the state announced the passage of the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act (AREGCBA), which will enable New York’s ambitious clean power plans. On the surface, it may seem like strange timing for such an initiative. But upon further inspection, this could be just the kind of boon the state, and the country, desperately need.
Consider that the COVID-19 crisis is really two crises: a public health emergency and an economic emergency. Basil Seggos, New York State Environmental Commissioner, says that while health and medical leaders continue their all-hands-on-deck effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, his organization will “continue to act aggressively to protect the environment and our communities.” In the course of doing so, AREGCBA can help the state create an influx of new capital and, by extension, new jobs — while driving down energy costs for its residents.
An ambitious solar power project in Schenectady was built at no expense to county taxpayers — and will save residents approximately $12M over 25 years.
The driving purpose of this new legislation is to design the state’s approval process to streamline PV renewable energy projects, which is attractive to private sector investors. This top-down concept has already been tested and proven, and its “downstream” beneficiaries are about to reap the rewards.
Two years ago, Schenectady County and DSD teamed up to develop “the largest and most ambitious municipal solar project in New York State.” Today, this partnership is about to unveil a network of eight solar farms that will generate up to 26MW of new solar energy per year throughout the county. The network was built at no expense to county taxpayers — and has the potential to save residents and local businesses more than $11.8M over 25 years.
Schenectady County, with partner DSD, is re-purposing land to create new solar energy farms that will produce enough solar energy to power roughly 60% of all County facilities.
Another example is a solar project DSD recently completed for the city of White Plains, NY, whereby eight solar power panel sites will add 6 MW of clean power, annually, to the city’s overall power grid. That’s enough solar energy to power 4,800 homes a year. Residents who enroll in the Community Solar program can save 10% off their monthly energy bill — and know that they’re reducing CO2 in the process. “It’s like buying a $100 [energy] gift card for $90,” said White Plains Public Works Commissioner Rick Hope.
Streamlining PV renewable energy projects is a tested and proven concept, and its beneficiaries are about to reap the rewards.
These projects are especially close to home for DSD. Our company headquarters is in Schenectady, and many of our current employees and former colleagues from GE Renewable Energy (DSD’s minority stakeholder) live in the community.
The extended DSD family, along with the broader community, are thankful to see this substantial financial relief at a time when it’s needed most. And, we’re excited to continue making progress in the fight against climate change at a time when we can’t afford to let up.
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