Renewable Energy Glossary of Acronyms and Terms


Renewable Energy Glossary of Acronyms and Terms

Helderberg Community Energy/Solarize Rev.11 19 2018

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AC, Alternating Current: the type of electric current found in most homes.

AHJ, Authority Having Jurisdiction: Often refers to a municipality in contractual language.

Amp, Ampere: Unit of measurement that describes the rate or strength of electrical current flow.

Anemometer: mechanical device used to measure wind speed.

Article 10 of the Public Service Law: Provides for the siting review of new and repowered or modified major electricity generating facilities (25 MW or more) in NYS in a unified proceeding instead of requiring a developer or owner of such a facility to apply for numerous state and local permits.

BOS, Balance of System: Equipment that supplements the PV panels in a solar array or the wind turbines in a wind farm in order to manage and deliver the electricity; including safety equipment, charge controllers, batteries, inverters, meters and instrumentation, depending upon the requirements of the system.

Battery Backup: Alternate power supply that stores electricity for use when grid power is not available.

Bundled Value: The total value of electricity sold, including any renewable energy credits.

Capacity Factor: The estimated average capacity a turbine has for generating electricity, considering the fact that the wind doesn’t always blow. A 1 MW turbine at a site with 28% capacity factor means that the turbine would produce an average of 28% of 1 MW of power.

CCA, Community Choice Aggregation: Municipalities negotiate with (renewable) energy suppliers for reduced costs to mass-convert most households in their jurisdictions, allowing individuals to opt out.

CCA Administrator: A company such as Joule Assets or MEGA that contracts with the municipality to administer and manage the CCA project, including purchasing electricity from (renewable) energy sources.

CDRPC, Capital District Regional Planning Commission: Provides implementation support for NYSERDA sponsored renewable energy programs, as well as a range of other municipal planning services.

Clean Energy Community: A NYSERDA program that challenges municipalities to compete for funding incentives by implementing projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions locally.

Clean Energy Standard: The clean energy goal for NYS to fight climate change, reduce air pollution, and ensure a diverse and reliable low carbon energy supply is to achieve 50% renewables by 2030. (See RPS)

Climate Smart Community: A NYSERDA program that supports municipalities with educational, financial and technical resources for implementing programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Community Solar: A program that allows individual households to access electricity that is offset by local solar energy producers by purchasing or leasing panels on the remote array or by purchasing power.

Community Wind Energy: Locally owned utility scale wind farm selling electricity for distribution in the grid, and benefiting the community with a long-term revenue stream.

CREB, Clean Renewable Energy Bond: – 0% bonds used by municipal utilities, rural electric cooperatives, and other non-taxable entities.

Day Ahead Market: An energy market brokered by the NYISO typically yielding a value greater than other NYISO markets (real-time & day-ahead).

DC, Direct Current: the type of electric current supplied by batteries.

Decibels: Units for measuring sound. Normal conversation is about 55 decibels.

DER, Distributed Energy Resources: Energy suppliers in diverse locations, such as solar and wind farms.

Distribution Lines: High voltage lines (34.5kV and less) that carry power from substations for distribution to individual customers.

EAF, Environmental Assessment Form: requirement of SEQR process to obtain construction permit.

EIS, Environmental Impact Study: a potential requirement of SEQR process to obtain construction permit.

ESCO, Energy Service Company: Entity that sells electricity to utility customers that is produced by alternative (renewable) power sources. The utility company continues to provide delivery services.

EV, Electric Vehicle: A vehicle with batteries powered exclusively by electricity, preferably renewable.

Flip Switch Model: Financing option in which a community group would partner with an energy project developer so that the developer would finance and own a large share of the project for the construction phase and first 10 years, and take tax benefits; then flip ownership shares so the community owns the large share or all of the project for remaining 10 or more years.

GHG, Green House Gas emissions: Gases that retain heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, perfluorocarbon, hydrofluorocarbon, and others.

Green Tag Value: Synonymous with RECs; state incentive payments for clean renewable energy (see REC)

Grid: The network that delivers electricity to consumers, including energy sources, power stations, substations, transmission and distribution lines, transformers and meters.

HOA, Home Owner Association: Reference used in contractual language.

IDA, Industrial Development Authority: A local agency that promotes economic development by providing financial incentives and assistance to projects and companies that offer promise in the area.

Interconnection: Agreement between utility company and power supplier, with costs to supplier.

IRR, Investment Rate of Return: Percentage increase or decrease of an investment’s value over time.

ITC, Investment Tax Credit: credit to offset federal tax liability for renewable energy projects.

kW, Kilowatt: one thousand watts of electricity.

kWh, Kilowatt hour: one thousand watts of electricity (consumed or produced) for an hour.

Lease Payments: Payments to host landowners for lease of the land for solar panels or windmills; can be based on how much electricity is produced.

LMI, Low and Middle Income: Households that meet income eligibility criteria qualify for some incentive programs to expand access to low cost renewable energy.

Meteorological tower: Temporary tower used to hold devices (anemometers) for measuring wind attributes.

MW, Megawatt: one million watts of electricity.

MWh, Megawatt hour: one million watts of electricity (consumed or produced) for an hour.

Net Metering: Statewide policy that allows customers who power their homes directly from renewable energy sources to “store” excess electricity on the grid via local utility lines to be used later at no cost.

NY ISO, New York Independent System Operator: a nonprofit organization that operates the grid and administers wholesale electricity markets in NYS.

NYSERDA, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority: provides support for implementation of renewable energy projects through educational programs, technical expertise and funding.

O&M, Operation and Maintenance: An aspect of any renewable energy project that is accommodated by contractual arrangements.

Off Grid: Refers to a facility that has sufficient power generating and storage (battery) capacity to operate independently and is not connected to or does not rely upon the utility grid.

Onsite Power: Direct empowerment of facilities by the use of solar panels, wind turbines, etc., e.g.: homes, businesses, schools.

Open Market: Refers to NYISO operated power markets that set wholesale prices for power produced by generators throughout NY State. Prices fluctuate on an hour to hour basis.

Photomontage: Photograph of an area with properly scaled images of solar arrays or windmills superimposed to show how they would look in a particular location.

PILOTS, Payments In Lieu Of Taxes: negotiated by the host municipality with energy project developers.

Pipeline: Sequential accumulation of projects or activities awaiting implementation.

POI, Point of Interconnection: A physical interface between a project’s (renewable) energy source and the utility’s electrical energy transmission or distribution system through which electricity flows.

Power Station: Facility that accepts electricity from a power generator and steps it up to high voltage for transmission lines to connect over long distances to substations.

PPA, Power Purchase Agreement: a long-term agreement to buy electricity from a producer at a certain price, usually lower than the market price.

Prospectus: Summary of solar or wind resource data collected by researchers, along with a feasibility study and cost benefit analysis to secure financing for a community owned renewable energy project proposal.

PSC, Public Service Commission: government agency that regulates utility companies.

PTC, Production Tax Credit: An inflation-adjusted per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) federal tax credit for electricity generated by qualified energy resources and sold by the taxpayer to an unrelated person during the taxable year to provide financial support for developers of renewable energy projects.

Queue: Sequential lineup of tasks or activities awaiting completion.

Radar, RAdio Detection and Ranging: A device that uses radio waves for a variety of purposes, including the detection of bird and bat activity for prospective wind energy projects.

REC, Renewable Energy Credit: provides a revenue stream for the attributes associated with generating power from clean energy sources selling wholesale power; brokered by NYSERDA, the value is set through a bidding process; Tug Hill wind energy project received $22/MWh for their RECs.

REPS or RPS, Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard: a 2016 mandate by NY State to purchase 50% of its power from renewable energy generating sources by 2030. (See Clean Energy Standard)

REV, Reforming the Energy Vision: A comprehensive energy strategy for NYS (

Revenue bonds: bonds secured by revenue generated, rather than, or in addition to assets, for collateral to guarantee a loan. (Construction of a parking garage with parking fees as collateral would be an analogy to construction of a solar or wind farm with electricity sales as collateral.)

RFP, Request for Proposals: Outline of requirements that is published to solicit bids for a project.

SEQR, State Environmental Quality Review: process for evaluating project development permit requests.

Setback requirements: Distances specified in a Zoning Ordinance to provide adequate space between solar arrays or wind turbines and roadways, adjacent property lines and buildings.

Shadow Flicker: Intermittent shadow passage from rotating windmill blades, esp. early and late in the day.

Sodar, SOund Detection and Ranging: a device that uses sound waves for measuring wind speeds at altitudes higher than a typical meteorological tower.

Solar Array: A group of photovoltaic solar panels or cells that convert sunlight to electricity, arranged and linked in such a way as to operate as a single unit along with other “balance of system” equipment.

Solarize: a not for profit group of volunteer advocates for expanded implementation of renewable energy opportunities (e.g. rooftop and community solar, electric vehicles, geothermal heating and cooling), and energy conservation measures.

Spot Market: Synonymous with Open Market; wholesale electricity prices for short term delivery are set based on bids per supply and demand. In NY, the spot market is brokered by the NYISO (Google “Electricity Market” for much more on this and other pricing information). See PPA.

Substation: Facility that accepts electricity from high voltage transmission lines and steps it down for delivery to distribution lines that connect with customers.

Three Phase Power: A prerequisite for the interconnection of large scale solar arrays or wind turbines. Three distribution lines carry three phase power and can accept electricity generated by large scale projects.

Transformers: Equipment that accepts high voltage electricity from distribution lines and steps it down to service level voltage for delivery to customers.

Transmission Lines: High voltage lines (>34.5KV) that can carry electricity over long distances from large scale power sources.

Value Stack: Bundling or stacking multiple value streams (power sources) can improve the economics for distributed energy resource (DER) technology investments by maximizing the return on investment (ROI) and reducing the payback period.

VDER, Value of Distributed Energy Resources: Replaces net metering to compensate solar and wind energy producers (DERs) by converting energy kWh credits to dollar credits that carry over billing cycles. Energy credits are valued differently based upon when and where they are produced relative to demand.

Volt: Unit of measurement that describes the pressure force of electrical flow.

Watt: Unit of measurement that describes the amount of power consumed by an appliance or produced by a generator. Volts X amps = watts. Watt more is there to know?


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