New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
NY-Sun Incentive Program


Issued: September 02, 2016
Link to full audit report 2015-S-91
Link to 90-day response

Purpose
To determine whether the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (Authority) achieved the objectives required by the Public Service Commission for the NY-Sun Incentive Program (NY-Sun), including: confirming geographic equity of investment; ensuring the NY-Sun projects are increasing renewable energy in New York’s power system; and properly administering NY-Sun. Our audit scope covers the period January 1, 2014 through May 10, 2016.

Background
The Authority was charged with oversight of NY-Sun, which was launched in 2012 by the State’s Public Service Commission. In 2014, NY-Sun received a commitment of $1 billion to stimulate the marketplace for solar energy in New York. NY-Sun aims to add more than three gigawatts (3 billion watts) of solar capacity, enough to power approximately 400,000 homes in the State, by 2023. In addition, the goal of NY-Sun is to help establish a self-sustaining and self-sufficient solar industry in the State.

The roughly $1 billion will be paid out as incentives to installers based on the size of the solar energy installation. As a means to managing incentives, the Authority has developed its own policies and procedures. In addition, the Authority works to ensure that consumers receive properly installed, reliable solar photovoltaic systems through initial design reviews and field inspections upon project completion.

Key Findings

  • In general, the Authority’s oversight of NY-Sun is adequate; however, we identified two areas where additional controls are necessary: monitoring of open projects and inspection of new installers’ systems.
  • The Authority established 210 days as the expected time required for installers to complete most projects, and an extension request is required if the project exceeds this timeframe. However, we found 1,568 projects that not only have exceeded 210 days, but have been open for more than 300 days, and do not have an extension request.
  • According to Authority policies, 15 to 30 percent of projects completed by experienced installers and the initial three projects for new installers must be inspected. However, we found that the Authority has not completed the required inspections of the initial three jobs for some new installers, nor has it documented the reasons for the deviation.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop and implement a more formal process to follow up on the status of projects that remain open for more than 300 days.
  • Re-examine priorities to determine if the new installer inspection requirement needs to be modified due to the increase in program volume.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

NYS Energy Research and Development Authority: Accounts Receivable Collection and Reporting (2015-S-35)


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236