Syracuse, NY -- State utility regulators today authorized an auction to distribute $95 million to new power plants fueled by the wind, the sun, biomass or other renewable sources.

The auction will be the fourth conducted under a standing state mandate to derive 25 percent of New York's electricity from renewable energy sources by 2013.

Members of the state Public Service Commission, who voted Thursday to approve the latest auction, noted that the time is right for new renewable energy projects. Developers can take advantage of federal stimulus grants worth up to 30 percent of a project's cost, as long as they begin construction by next year.

The auction will be conducted by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Here's how it works:

Power plant developers whose projects qualify as renewable energy submit sealed bids stating a price they would accept for their "renewable energy credits," which are calculated based on how many kilowatt-hours a facility produces. Renewable energy credits supplement a power plant's income from actual energy sales, which depend on market prices.

Bids are evaluated primarily on price, with some consideration for each project's potential to spur economic development. Ten-year contracts go to the winners.

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