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Distributed Energy Resources

NYPA Petitions Utility Regulators to Establish Renewable Energy Access and Community Help Program

The New York Power Authority on Jan. 31 filed a petition with the New York State Public Service Commission to establish the Renewable Energy Access and Community Help program to provide electric bill credits for low-income households across the state.

The new program stems from NYPA’s expanded authority to develop, own, and operate renewable energy generating projects -- either alone or in collaboration with other entities -- granted in the 2023-24 Enacted State Budget and directly supports the state’s renewable energy and environmental justice goals set forth in the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

“The REACH program will help ensure that low-income New Yorkers will not be left behind as we transition to a clean energy economy,” said NYPA President and CEO Justin Driscoll. “The Power Authority is driven to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in New York State through our expanded authority. This is a transformational moment for the state and this new REACH program will enable more New Yorkers to benefit from newly built renewable energy projects.”

REACH will directly benefit low-income electric ratepayers using renewable generation from distributed energy sources in their communities or from large-scale renewable projects located throughout the state’s electric power grid, NYPA noted.

The bill credits will be funded from a portion of revenues from new renewable energy generation projects developed or contracted for by NYPA and designated for REACH, and other authorized funding.

The petition asks the PSC to establish a regulatory framework to allow electric utilities to receive funds from the Power Authority to credit low-income ratepayer’s bills.

NYPA requests that PSC build the REACH program utilizing the same structure as the Energy Affordability Program and as the Statewide Solar for All program, which New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in her State of the State address on Jan. 9, 2024.

The use of existing regulatory structures will lower costs for program administration and allow for more funds to be received by low-income ratepayers, NYPA said.

The petition, which comes more than three months ahead of the statutory filing deadline of May 3, 2024, will be issued for public notice and comment by PSC.

Following stakeholder input, NYPA asked that PSC issue an order establishing the program by the end of this year to ensure that REACH is ready for implementation in 2025.

The timing will coincide with the Power Authority’s planned issuance of its first biennial Strategic Plan for building new renewable energy generation projects in January 2025.

Once the REACH framework is established, NYPA will confer with the Long Island Power Authority to implement REACH within LIPA’s service territory.

In addition, NYPA is currently studying the feasibility and advisability of establishing a similar program for municipal distribution utilities and rural electric cooperatives.