New York is one of the leading states in community solar projects, accounting for over half of all new projects in 2021. With 782 projects worth 1,274 total megawatts in 2022, the state’s community solar revolution is powered by a slew of startups in the Big Apple, one of which is OYA Renewables.
On March 27, OYA received $27 million for four projects across three New York countries, each providing between 7 and 10 million kilowatts of power. That’s enough to provide energy to 1,000 or 1,400 homes annually.
The four projects build on the 15 projects slated for this year funded by $216 million in financial backing OYA received earlier this month. Both backings were in the form of loan financing, with OYA’s most recent one led by City National Bank (CNB), a wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada. The startup’s March 1 loan was led by CIT, a division of First Citizens Bank & Trust Company, and Monarch Private Capital.
According to the startup, since its founding in 2009, OYA has developed over 1,440 megawatts of direct current power. When one megawatt powers about 750 homes at any given moment, that’s a lot of energy. Plus, the company has a pipeline of 9 GW of distributed and utility-scale solar projects across North America.
Based in Toronto, OYA has projects across Canada and the U.S., with several projects focused on low-income communities. “Climate change affects people and communities disproportionately, with some impacted more than others,” the company says. “At OYA Renewables, we believe the renewable energy transition serves all communities, which in turn, empowers communities to choose clean, lower-cost energy solutions where they are needed most.”
According to the startup, in addition to providing power where it's needed most, the four projects powered by its most recent loan will offset an estimated total of 27,400 metric tons of carbon over the course of their lifetimes. By mid-2023, the company also plans to have five additional projects in New York reach commercial operation, adding to its pipeline that already exceeds 600 megawatts in the state.
New York is one of the only states with a mandate and an incentive for community solar, providing funding for projects targeting low-income customers. The state has the most expansive community solar incentives of any state, with $387 million dedicated to the Solar Energy Equity Framework (SEEF) as of 2022.
It also has key initiatives like bulls that credit low-income New Yorkers for making the switch and includes additional incentives for community solar providers putting projects in disadvantaged communities.
Thus, with several projects located in low-income communities, OYA says they will qualify for additional tax credits of up to 20%, taking the total potential credits from 30% to as high as 50%.
The state is also investing in transmission so renewable projects can reach their peak capacity. Last month, New York deployed $4.4 billion for transmission upgrades to create 3.5 GW of renewable capacity.
New York’s heavy investment in community-based renewable energy projects inches the state closer to its goal of having a 100% clean energy sector by 2040, reaching the 70% mark by the end of the decade. Companies like OYA will help propel the state closer and closer to its goal.
According to Manish Nayar, Chairman and founder of OYA Renewables, OYA plans to transition from being a developer to an independent power producer.
“These types of investments from highly-progressive banking partners are critical to the financing of renewable energy projects. Without them, we wouldn’t be the major force we are in the NY community solar market and the U.S. energy transition could not have generated the incredible momentum it’s seeing now.”