Large-scale energy and battery storage are playing a critical role in New York’s plans for grid resilience and the transition to clean and sustainable energy. In 2019, New York passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which includes some of the most ambitious energy and climate goals in the country, including plans for achieving 3 gigawatts of energy storage capacity by 2030. In late 2022, NYSERDA and the NYSDPS outlined a roadmap called “New York’s 6 GW Energy Storage Roadmap” to double the state’s energy storage targets by 2030. This updated roadmap identifies barriers and provides comprehensive recommendations for expanding New York’s energy storage programs through NYSERDA-led initiatives.
For both large-scale (bulk) and community, commercial, and industrial (retail) systems, one of the findings highlights challenges in completing interconnection processes in a timely manner, which can sometimes involve lengthy local land use and entitlement procedures. On average, timelines range from three to five years from the time of an interconnection request and financial commitments to the actual commissioning of a storage facility. To assist developers and local communities with the entitlement process, NYSERDA has published an Energy Storage Guidebook containing model codes, permits, and other relevant information to support rezoning and planning for energy storage systems.
Our experience with numerous renewable energy projects throughout New York, including early battery storage projects and utility-scale and community solar installations under the NY-Sun program, confirms that the NYSERDA model law for energy storage systems serves as a starting point for most local governments. Active engagement has been crucial to achieving success, extending beyond the typical site due diligence process to assess project feasibility and create a local roadmap. There is simply no substitute for early and strategic communication on how a project is supported through NYSERDA financial programs, understanding location constraints related to grid interconnection, and addressing the unique aspects of each municipality’s land use regulations to eliminate variability.
Communicating the benefits of energy storage facilities for local grid resilience and their interrelationship with sustainable energy from solar and wind is crucial when engaging with municipalities. Complex sets of federal, state, and local regulations should not serve as barriers to streamlining a project’s success. Addressing potential impacts, such as noise, safety, aesthetics, and land use compatibility upfront, can contribute to efficient permitting timelines, including compliance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
Successfully siting and permitting battery energy storage projects in New York requires meticulous planning, community engagement, regulatory compliance, and proactive guidance. As the energy landscape continues to evolve, it is essential to stay updated on regulatory changes, engage with stakeholders, and adapt strategies accordingly. By collaborating with experienced professionals at Cuddy & Feder, we assist energy companies in avoiding common pitfalls and ensuring a smooth path towards deploying renewable systems that contribute to a cleaner and more resilient energy future in New York.