On April 3, 2020, New York State enacted the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act (the Act), landmark legislation aimed at improving the siting and construction of large-scale renewable energy projects in an environmentally responsible and cost-effective manner. The Act establishes the first-of-its-kind Office of Renewable Energy Siting, housed within the Department of State, which will consolidate the environmental review of major renewable energy facilities and provide a single forum to ensure that siting decisions are predictable, responsible, and delivered in a timely manner along with opportunities for input from local communities.
All large-scale, renewable energy projects 25 megawatts or larger will be required to obtain a siting permit from the Office of Renewable Energy Siting for new construction or expansion. Projects already in the initial phases of the current Article 10 siting process through the State’s Siting Board may remain in Article 10 or opt to transfer into the new siting process. New projects sized between 20 and 25 megawatts may also elect to apply for a siting permit. The Office of Renewable Energy Siting has the authority to issue a single permit for the construction of major renewable energy facilities from both a state and local law perspective, but applicants will still be required to obtain any approvals necessary under federal law, including federally-delegated permits.
The Office of Renewable Energy Siting has 60 days from the date of its receipt of a permit application to make a completeness determination. An application will not be complete without proof of consultation with the host municipalities and communities. After a completeness determination, draft permit conditions will be issued by the Office of Renewable Energy Siting for public comment. Within the established comment period, the host municipalities must submit a statement indicating whether the proposed renewable energy facility complies with applicable local laws. The Office of Renewable Energy Siting must issue a final decision on the siting permit within one year of the date on which the application is deemed complete and within 6 months if the facility is proposed to be located on brownfield, former commercial or industrial, landfill, former power plant, and abandoned or underutilized sites.