N.Y. announces biomass thermal incentives, RPS solicitation

By Erin Voegele | July 29, 2014

On July 29, N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made two announcements that will benefit bioenergy projects within the state, including the official launch of Renewable Heat N.Y. and the availability of funding to support clean energy generation projects.

Renewable Heat N.Y. is a $27 million initiative that aims to build a sustainable, high-efficiency, low-emissions wood heating sector in the state. The program will also help develop a more clean technology manufacturing base in New York, along with a skilled installer base and sustainably harvested wood fuels from state forests. Cuomo first announced plans to launch the program in January. In February, 18 projects received funding under the program to support the installation of wood-fired heating equipment. 

“The wood-fired heating industry is an important source of energy in Upstate New York, and by launching Renewable Heat N.Y. we are helping to shape this growing sector with a focus on clean, sustainable, and highly-efficient practices,” Cuomo said. “This initiative is the most comprehensive in the nation, and I am confident that it will support the continued evolution of a vibrant wood heating sector in rural areas of the state.”

According to information released by the governor’s office, the Renewable Heat N.Y. initiative was officially launched in late July at Evoworld Inc., a manufacturer of high-efficiency wood pellet boilers. Vincent’s Heating and Fuels Service, Econoburn and the New York Biomass Energy Alliance also participated in the event.

 “This initiative will lower costs for high-efficiency, low-emissions wood heating systems, and create greater acceptance in the market,” said John Rhodes, president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. “NYSERDA will jump-start the initiative with large anchor projects, which will help increase demand for wood pellets and decrease the costs for smaller residential and commercial customers as the market grows.”

The July 29 announcement includes the launch of new residential and commercial financial incentives and training, available through NYSERDA, and sustainable biomass harvesting guidelines for suppliers of wood biomass. Residential incentives of $1,000, or up to $1,500 for income-qualified homeowners, are available for the installation of wood pellet stoves. Residential customers and small commercial customers are also able to receive a $4,000 incentive for the recycling of old outdoor/indoor wood boilers and an additional 20 percent of installed cost up to $4,000 for the installation of an advanced cordwood boiler with thermal storage. Small commercial customers can also receive an incentive of up to 25 percent of total installed, up to $100,000, for the installation of a small pellet boiler with thermal storage. Large commercial customers are eligible for up to 20 percent of the installed cost, up to $100,000, for the installation of a large pellet boiler with thermal storage. Large commercial customers can also receive an incentive of up 25 percent of installed cost, up to $150,000, for the installation of a tandem pellet boiler with thermal storage. 

A second announcement made by Cuomo on July 29 indicates New York will make $250 million available to fund large-scale clean energy projects, including biomass facilities, biogas projects, wind farms, fuel cells and the upgrading of small- to medium-sized hydropower projects. Funding for the competitive solicitation will be provided by NYSERDA through the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Selected projects will be awarded for a term of up to 20 years. The solicitation will be the ninth RPS Main Tier solicitation launched by NYSERDA. The previous eight solicitations resulted in approximately 1,900 MW of installed capacity at 65 projects that generate more than 4.6 million MWh of renewable energy annually.

Entities interested in participating in the procurement are encouraged to submit a notice of intent to bid form to NYSERDA as soon as possible. Application packages for the solicitation are due Aug. 25. A bidders teleconference is scheduled for Aug. 7. NYSERDA intends to notify winning bidders in late October. Additional information on the solicitation is available on the NYSERDA website.