In 2010, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. hosted its inaugural Solar Summit, offering state and local professionals in the solar electric industry information on interconnecting their projects, a platform to network, the latest trends and programs, and opportunities to share their experiences and solutions. This year, Central Hudson hosted its 10th annual Solar Summit on March 3 at the Locust Grove visitors’ center in Poughkeepsie, and much has changed since the event initially launched.
Entering 2010, there were 195 solar systems in Central Hudson’s territory, the majority of which were small-scale residential rooftop systems, with a combined installed capacity of 1.4 megawatts. Today, there are more than 9,380 installations with a capacity of about 131 megawatts, with additional systems on the way: more than 360 systems are in queue, with a combined installed capacity of about 220 megawatts. A growing number of these connections are now large scale commercial or community distributed generation. There are also seven battery storage systems and seven more in queue with a combined capacity of nearly 14 megawatts. On a per capita basis, Central Hudson’s service area has among the highest concentrations of solar development in the state.
“Central Hudson supports the growing accessibility of distributed generation and renewable energy, and we are proud of the partnerships we have made with the local developers and advocates,” said Charles A. Freni, CEO and President of Central Hudson.
Freni noted that the utility has made strides in its interconnection process by developing its hosting capacity maps and system data portal. Central Hudson has also made significant investments in the distribution system to increase the grid’s ability to interconnect and manage distributed energy resources.
New York signed into law the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which puts the state on a path to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions. “The rapid growth in solar installations and battery storage is helping to reduce the state’s carbon footprint, but it also places additional stresses and costs on the operation of the electric grid, which was not originally built for two-way power flow,” Freni continued. “We advocate for programs that facilitate the most efficient/least costly approach to renewable energy, while maintaining or improving the system’s power quality and reliability.”
The annual Solar Summit is an opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss the direction of industry and how to shape it in a manner that provides the best outcome for customers and the environment. Presenters included representatives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), City University of New York, New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium and Central Hudson.
Nearly 100 industry professionals and utility representatives attended to learn of the procedural aspects of interconnecting solar electric systems with the utility grid; advances in tools and programs developed by Central Hudson, New York state and advocacy groups to enable smart solar development; and New York state solar policy, including development of community solar projects that allow businesses and residents to purchase electricity produced by local solar farms.
“The Solar Summit is important for us to keep up with the current industry trends, how Central Hudson is embracing them and what we should be looking forward to as an industry in the years to come,” said Bryan McGurn, co-owner of Lighthouse Solar in New Paltz.
Alison Neligan, a project manager with NYSERDA, presented on the NY-Sun program, which provides incentives to make solar installation more affordable.
“This annual event is a great way to provide developers with information on NYSERDA, changes to our programs and updates to what’s coming out both statewide and throughout the industry,” Neligan. “Our goal is to keep everyone informed and on the same page. Central Hudson has been a tremendous partner in helping more New Yorkers realize the benefits of renewable energy sources like solar while accelerating progress towards the achievement of Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading climate and clean energy goals.”
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