Sunny Earth Day for the New York State Legislature

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Solar is really shining in Albany’s Earth Day activities this year. This week, the New York State Senate unanimously passed legislation to extend the successful NY-Sun program for 10 years and make New York a real solar powerhouse – on to the Assembly! Between the Senate vote and the Governor introducing similar legislation of his own earlier this week, there’s serious momentum for major solar policy coming out of New York this session.

With enough solar to power 27,000 homes, New York currently ranks 12th in the country for total installed solar capacity. That’s pretty good, but New York wants to do better. NY-Sun was established to do just that by quadrupling the amount of customer-sited solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity added between 2011 and 2013. This kick-starter program is already delivering strong results in the form of a growing local solar industry and affordable solar energy for New York homes, schools and businesses. In 2012, $257 million was invested in New York to install solar on homes and businesses – representing a whopping 91% increase over the previous year.

With the NY-Sun program quickly delivering on its promise, focused turned to expanding it and establishing the kind of longer-term policy certainty that it takes to build a world-class solar market and a robust local industry. As anyone in business will tell you—certainty creates confidence and confidence creates the opportunity for growth. In his 2013 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo committed to extending the NY-Sun Initiative through 2023 in his State of the State address. The legislation passed by the Senate yesterday – the New York Solar Bill (A.5060/S.2522) – would solidify that 10-year extension in statute, ensuring that New Yorkers benefit from a stable and predictable long-term incentive program.

The bill will bring all kinds of benefits to New York State:

  • Build 2,200 megawatts (MW) of solar, enough clean, reliable electricity to power 400,000 New York homes.
  • Create thousands of new local jobs in New York.
  • Save New Yorkers billions by reducing the need to fire up our dirtiest and most expensive fossil power plants.
  • Spur millions of dollars of investment in the state’s growing clean energy economy.

In short: at a time when the state faces the dual challenges of an economy still in recovery and failing energy infrastructure, this solar bill can help build a stronger New York. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, New Yorkers understand all too well the urgent need to build that stronger, cleaner and safer energy future.

No surprise then that the proposal has support from a bevy of businesses, trade associations and environmental groups, including: Alliance for Clean Energy – New York, Borrego Solar, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Environmental Advocates of New York, EDF Renewable Energy, E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, Mainstream Energy Corp., NRDC, The Nature Conservancy, New York League of Conservation Voters, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), NYSEIA, Nexamp, Pace Energy & Climate Center, REC Solar, SolarCity, SEIA, Solar One, Sierra Club, SunEdison, Sungevity, SunPower Corp., Sunrun, Trinity Solar, and . . . us.

A big thanks to both Governor Cuomo and Senate bill sponsor George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane) for being solar champions! We’re looking forward to working with leaders in Albany and our fellow stakeholders to deliver comprehensive solar policy to Governor Cuomo’s desk this legislative session.

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.