Renewable Energy Opportunities Amp Up: New York Finalizes Major Renewable Energy Regulations – Section 94-c
April 1, 2021
New York recently streamlined the siting and permitting process for large-scale renewable energy projects, which should get solar and wind generation on the grid quicker while providing numerous renewable energy generation opportunities to developers throughout the state.
The state’s formation of the New York Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) was done through the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act (passed April 3, 2020), one of the most significant overhauls of large-scale renewable energy project permitting since Public Service Law Article 10 was passed on August 4, 2011. Earlier this month, ORES issued final regulations on Section 94-c, which establishes an expedited review process for renewable energy projects. The purpose of Section 94-c is to improve the siting and construction of large-scale renewable energy projects throughout the state while maintaining environmental responsibility and making the process more cost-effective overall.
Some of the key components of the finalized regulations include:
- Consistency: ORES is authorized to consolidate the environmental review of major renewable energy projects, establish consistent regulations and uniform standards, and define agency review timeframes for permit applications. ORES also will help support local municipalities review permit applications upon request.
- Local vs. State Approval Options: The regulations provide the ability for developers producing between 20 and 25 megawatts (MW) of power the option to either receive local approval through the State Environmental Quality Act (SEQRA), or state approval through the new 94-c process. Previously, all developments under 25 MW required approval through the SEQRA process, while those over 25 MW required state approval through the Article 10 process.
- Host Community Benefit: Like the previous Article 10 siting process, these regulations include a “Host Community Benefit” which defines an impacted area by the development and requires renewable energy facilities to pay an annual fee to all utility customers in the designated affected areas.
- Addressing Environmental Impacts: The new regulations describe how environmental mitigation requirements are calculated for possible significant impacts to threatened and endangered species that may be affected by the project.
By streamlining the renewable energy permitting process, New York intends to create numerous opportunities for developers and utilities who may have previously overlooked the state due to uncertainty on permit approvals and project schedules.
With the formation of ORES and the new 94-c regulations, developers will receive support during the project review and approval stages with ORES oversight of other stakeholder agencies including the NYS Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), NYS Agriculture & Markets (NYSDAM), and the NYS Department of Public Service (NYS DPS).
Understanding what these agencies require on a renewable energy project permit application or conceptual design may seem daunting at times, but an experienced environmental and engineering design consultant can help guide the process and ultimately save time and money. Fisher Associates has provided environmental consulting and engineering design services on numerous renewable energy projects throughout the state of New York, guiding our clients through the review process and helping their projects get on the grid.
Let us know how we can help you with your renewable energy project or ask us more about the Section 94-c regulations. Contact Bill Trembath at 716-858-1234 x307 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.