New York solar is on a tear! Following on the heels of a massive NY-Sun extension and “Reforming the Energy Vision” process, lawmakers are now considering a shared clean energy bill to help renters and others go solar.  This week, the Assembly Energy Committee passed A.9931, which would establish a new shared clean energy program in the state. And later that same day the Senate kept things rolling by introducing a same-as bill (S.7727). We are – in a word – psyched to see so much momentum behind this effort to allow more New Yorkers to participate in and benefit from the state’s growing solar economy.

Despite strong solar growth in the state, a majority of New York’s energy consumers – including renters, families and businesses in multi-unit buildings, and homeowners with shaded roofs – are unable to invest in their own rooftop solar energy systems. A.9931/S.7727 would overcome that barrier to solar adoption by allowing energy customers to subscribe to a local renewable energy project elsewhere in their community and receive a utility bill credit for their portion of the energy produced.

“Today solar is creating thousands of jobs in New York and pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy all while building a cleaner, more resilient energy supply. Yet a majority of our residents and businesses cannot participate in that growing solar marketplace simply because they do not own rooftops that are suitable for solar. This bill would make solar an option for renters and millions of other New Yorkers for the first time, in turn delivering more solar benefits to our state,” said New York State Assemblymember, Energy Committee Chair and bill sponsor Amy Paulin (D-88).

Shared Clean Energy would make solar work for even more of New York. That means more local solar investment, more local solar jobs and healthier, more resilient communities. We thank Assemblymember Paulin and Senator George Maziarz (R-62) for their leadership on this bill, and we urge their colleagues in the legislature to pass A.9931/S.7727 so that more New Yorkers can go solar.

And we’re not the only ones. We’re excited that local environmental groups, solar businesses, affordable housing advocates, even our favorite Oscar-nominated renewable energy advocate Mark Ruffalo are all speaking up in support of the bill.

“I’ve never been prouder to call myself a New Yorker as leader after leader steps forward on behalf of health and economic opportunity for all. The Shared Renewables Bill is moving forward with strong leadership in and outside Albany, but most importantly, it is moving forward on a road that ALL New Yorkers can walk, with access to stable, clean and affordable solar energy to power their homes and places of business, whether owned or leased. That means moving forward, together – with better health and economic opportunity in communities across the state, from Buffalo to Binghamton to the Bronx and everywhere in between,” said Ruffalo.

“We have four times more solar installed in our state today than we had just two years ago. New Yorkers clearly want more clean, reliable solar energy powering our homes, schools and businesses. A9931 would connect more New Yorkers with the solar power they want and continue put our state at the forefront of energy development and job growth in our country,“ said Shaun Chapman, President of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA).

“Solar is delivering tremendous health, environmental and economic benefits to New York, but the traditional panels-on-your-roof approach simply doesn’t work for most of our energy consumers. Families and businesses who rent and plenty of others are left in the dark. It’s time for a more inclusive approach to New York clean energy. We urge lawmakers to pass A9931 solar can shine for all,” said Aaron Bartley, Executive Director of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo.

“New York has been a clean energy pioneer. By giving more consumers access to solar power for the first time—from family renters to business owners—this is a clear next step to building on that legacy,” said Jackson Morris, Senior Energy & Climate Analyst, at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“New York has charted a pioneering path forward on clean energy. Strong existing programs and new initiatives like the ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ process aim to empower New Yorkers to take climate action into their own hands and repower our state with clean energy. Shared solar, which gives more consumers access to renewable energy, should be part of New York’s clean energy vision,” added David Gahl, Pace Energy and Climate Center’s Director of Strategic Engagement.

Strong calls from strong partners for this commonsense policy for expanding solar participation. Ten other states have shared clean energy programs, including Massachusetts and Vermont, as well as Washington, DC.

So what comes next? Following its successful passage out of the Energy Committee, the Assembly bill now advances to the Ways and Means Committee. The Senate version is headed to Finance. But it’s a race against time with the last day of the New York legislative session coming up June 19. That’s means now is the time to get loud in support of solar-for all. If you are a New Yorker, email your lawmakers today!

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

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