With further deployment of solar PV projects set to play a vital role in meeting NY climate targets, entities within the solar industry, as well as policymakers and regulators, are eager to ensure the efficient use of land, and streamline the process to approve sites for solar projects. One such step towards achieving these goals occurred on April 15 of this year, when the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) issued its Order Modifying Separate Site Requirements.
The Order modifies the previous ‘separate site’ requirements for determining whether 2 or more projects are separate and distinct enough to meet the 5 MW capacity limit under Value of Distributed Energy Resources (“VDER”) tariffs. With the new Order going into effect immediately, projects may now satisfy the separate site requirement if they have:
Separate deeds or unique Section-Block-Lot (SBL) or Borough-Block-Lot (BBL) numbers
Separate metes and bounds descriptions recorded via a separate memorandum of lease
As a result of these new modifications brought about by the Order, land will be utilized more efficiently, with less land lost in order to meet setbacks and other zoning requirements. Additionally, there will be a reduction in review time, and associated costs, thanks to the elimination of potential subdivision or variance requirements. Full details of the Order Modifying Separate Site Requirements are available here.
Separate Sites & The Three-Factor Test
As noted above, compensation under the Value Stack methodology is currently limited to solar projects less than 5 MW. In order to determine whether or not a solar project meets the 5 MW limit and qualifies for compensation, the PSC utilizes a three-factor test.
Each facility must be separately metered and interconnected to the utility grid
Each facility must be operationally independent
Each facility must be located on a ‘separate site’
After reports of miscommunication between utilities and developers regarding what constitutes a separate site, the PSC noted that, “utilities have been applying the ‘separate site’ factor in different ways, and at times have provided conflicting information to developers.”
Following one such case of miscommunication, the developer in question sought clarification from the PSC, leading to the comment above. Furthermore, the developer suggested that the existing (at the time) requirement for separate deeds offered no benefit to ratepayers, and could also lead to delays in construction and financing which could result in additional costs for the redesign of solar projects, and even the loss of the investment tax credit.
The PSC concurred with these arguments from the developer and, ultimately, the Order Modifying Separate Site Requirements was issued. As noted earlier, a developer can now satisfy the separate site requirement by obtaining an SBL or BBL number and a metes and bounds description that is included in either a deed, or via a separate memorandum of lease. The separate site requirement does remain in place, but this new modification reduces both the time and cost associated with project development, and will lead to further deployment of renewable energy projects across New York State.
Learn More About VDER & The Value Stack
For more information about the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) and the Value Stack check out our most popular articles on the subject below.
If you want to go solar in New York then reach out to YSG Solar today by sending an email or calling at 212.389.9215. Whether it’s residential, commercial, or community solar, YSG will steer you in the right direction. Additionally, YSG is also seeking land for solar farm development in the following NY counties:
YSG Solar is a project development company responsible for commoditizing energy infrastructure projects. We work with long-term owners and operators to provide clean energy assets with stable, predictable cash flows. YSG's market focus is distributed generation and utility-scale projects located within North America.