April 8 (Renewables Now) - The state of New York has passed legislation that will “dramatically” speed up the permitting process for renewable energy projects.
The so-called Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act will facilitate the state in reaching its goal of sourcing 70% of its power from renewable power projects and help it recover from the coronavirus crisis, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) said last week.
The new legislation envisages the creation of a new Office of Renewable Energy Permitting that will introduce a siting process specifically designed for renewable power projects. The entity will adopt uniform standards for the environmental impacts commonly related to renewable energy projects and identify some mitigation steps, as well as environmental conservation measures. Additionally, it will develop draft permits for public comment and make sure that complete applications are acted upon within a year, except for when the project involves former commercial and industrial sites. In this case, the applications will be reviewed within six months.
All projects, both for new construction and expansion, of over 25 MW will be required to get a permit through the Siting Office. Projects that are already in the initial phases of the Article 10 siting process will be allowed either to stick to this standard or opt-in to the new siting procedures. Schemes in the 20 MW-25 MW category will also be allowed to opt-in.
In addition, a new Clean Energy Resources Development and Incentives Program will seek to support renewable energy projects at build-ready sites like abandoned commercial sites, brownfields, landfills, former industrial sites and underutilised sites. A special category under the new legislation will support the planning, investment and development of grid infrastructure.
“This new law will support a rapid transition to clean renewable energy sources and ensure that our enormous pipeline of large-scale renewable energy projects can be responsibly permitted [..],” said Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA.