Earlier this week, the Office of Renewable Energy Siting finalized and enacted the new regulations required by the New York Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act.

Signed into law about a year ago, the Act seeks to expedite and streamline the regulation of major renewable energy projects, including wind, solar, and energy storage. It further is intended to remove cumbersome barriers to development in order to help New York achieve emissions targets in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (the “CLCPA”), which requires New York to obtain

  • 70 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030
  • 100 percent emissions-free electricity by 2040
  • 9,000 Megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity by 2035
  • 6,000 MW of solar energy by 2025
  • 3,000 MW of energy storage capacity by 2030

Even after a tumultuous year brought on by the global pandemic, New York and the development community have made significant strides towards these goals. The finalized regulations will provide developers with greater clarity on the new process, especially in terms of standards and conditions for public comment.

Under terms of the act, the new Office of Renewable Energy Siting (the “Siting Office”), located within the Department of State, will be responsible for overseeing the permitting process for all renewable energy projects greater than 25 MW in size, as well as any project of at least 20 MW that elects to opt-in.

Importantly, the Act eliminates the need to obtain any other State or local approvals, meaning projects greater than 80 MW will no longer need to obtain a separate approval under Section 68 of the Public Service Law. In addition, projects that propose to connect to the electric grid via transmission lines less than 10 miles in length will also be included as part of the streamlined review process and will no longer need to go through the lengthy and costly Article VII approval process.

The new regulations apply uniform standards and conditions for each type of major renewable energy facility. These standards and conditions, along with site-specific conditioners, must achieve a net conservation benefit to any impacted endangered and threatened species, which may require applicants to provide off-site mitigation or additional funding.

The Energy Industry Team at Harris Beach outlined the major aspects of the new siting process in a legal alert last April. Our expanded team is involved in numerous renewable projects across the state and we continue to monitor the emerging new process.

For further information on the Act, contact partner Michelle Piasecki at (518) 701-2741 or mpiasecki@harrisbeach.com; partner John McManus 518-701-2734 or  jmcmanus@harrisbeach.com; or Aubrey Ohanian at 518-701-2720 or aohanian@harrisbeach.com.

This alert does not purport to be a substitute for advice of counsel on specific matters.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York State, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.