Building renewable energy facilities and the transmission lines to connect them to the grid can take a long time. Legislators in New York have a plan to speed up the process with mandated time frames and clarify some key aspects.

The 2025 budget for the State of New York — proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul and approved by the legislature in April 2024 — includes the Renewable Action Through Project Interconnection and Deployment (RAPID) Act. The RAPID Act is intended to expedite the environmental review and permitting processes associated with major renewable energy facilities (MREF) and major electric transmission facilities (METF).

The purpose of the new legislation is to expedite lowering greenhouse gas emissions within the state. That would help New York meet the reductions and carbon neutrality proposed by the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, one of the most aggressive decarbonization acts in the country.

Previously, major facilities were permitted under two distinct processes:

  • MREF were permitted through the Department of State and the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES).
  • Electric and gas facilities were permitted through the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) in the familiar process called Article VII.

The RAPID Act brings the ORES under the PSC, and will create a new permitting process called Article VIII.

What Comes Next

New York state agencies are working over the next year to clarify the various requirements of the new public service law. Those clarifications will develop as the PSC, ORES and the other state agencies — such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Agriculture and Markets, and the Department of Transportation — meet and collect stakeholder input as they identify the rules and regulations that will become the guiding principles. The new regulations will include potential new site-specific mitigation criteria and will set methods for siting, permitting, design and construction.

Perhaps the most significant aspects of the legislation are its effects on the time frames for evaluation and completion of the permitting processes, as well as the participation of local governments in determining the applicability of local laws.

The RAPID Act states that the ORES, working under the PSC, will have 60 days to determine completeness of a MREF application and 120 days for a METF application. It also establishes a 60-day comment period for the public, and a resolution that projects should be approved within a year. Previously the time frames have been assumed but not specifically delineated or mandated.

Also, municipal waivers previously have been obtained through a request to the PSC in the Article VII process in Exhibit 7. It can be surmised that the new Article VIII process will have a much more active municipal outreach process, since municipalities appear to be required to respond with their own ordinances and requirements applicable to the project in question. Additional preemptive outreach by the utilities will be needed to see that these conversations are occurring prior to filing. Time frames for these municipal responses remain to be determined.

All of the changes are subject to rulemaking, which is expected to take up to a year to complete. Opportunities to comment have not arisen yet but will bear watching. Nonetheless, the overarching result of these changes under the RAPID Act should be a better-defined process that gets renewable energy resources built and connected to the grid faster. These rules will be a breath of fresh air, bringing New York closer to its carbon reduction objectives in rapid fashion.


New York’s Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act was an earlier effort to streamline the electrical transmission line siting process, setting the stage for the latest developments.

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Drew McMullin is an associate project manager at Burns & McDonnell. Over two decades of experience, he has helped more than a dozen major utilities across the eastern U.S. manage renewable, electrical and gas transmission and distribution projects.