New York Regulators Bring the Holiday Cheer

At today’s New York Public Service Commission meeting, the Commission voted to approve a petition from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to fund the state’s transformative NY-Sun program through 2015. The Commission’s approval of $216 million will support roughly 260 megawatts (MW) of residential and commercial solar projects over the next two years. Taking NY-Sun a step further, the Commission also directed NYSERDA to submit a funding request to support a long-term NY-Sun program post 2015. This will provide invaluable policy certainty for solar companies and consumers alike as New York continues its charge to solar scale. We’ll put a bow on that!

“Solar power is critical to making our environment healthier and our energy system more resilient,” Governor Cuomo said in a press statement. “The funding approved today will expand the use of clean, renewable power across New York State and ensure we continue to be a national leader in solar energy. Today’s announcement highlights the ongoing success of NY-Sun, attracting the economic benefits of a vibrant solar industry, creating more jobs, and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.”

“Providing greater certainty to the solar industry will lead to reduced costs and increased deployment,” added Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York State.

PSC Chair Audrey Zibelman said, “The Commission recognizes the substantial opportunities that solar power offers residential and commercial customers to reduce electricity bills and improve the environment. We fully support the solar power goals set by the Governor’s NY-Sun initiative.”

All told, NY-Sun has resulted in hundreds of megawatts of new solar capacity installed and under development. With upfront rebate programs and competitive solicitations designed to enable diverse market participation by homeowners and businesses up and down the state, NY-Sun has successfully propelled New York to a leading solar market. And it has helped put more than 3,300 New Yorkers to work in the solar industry.

As part of the Order, the Commission has also authorized NYSERDA to make plans to transition the solar rebate and competitive PV programs into a regional megawatt block structure where incentive levels decline in a predictable fashion as costs come down and more solar is deployed across the state. As we’ve seen in California, this kind of transparent, capacity-based incentive structure can be an incredibly power tool for driving scale and lowering costs in a way that’s both sustainable and cost-effective. NYSERDA will also be looking at options for incorporating Long Island’s current solar programs, thereby creating a truly statewide program to drive New York’s solar market.

In addition to the NY-Sun program, the Commission also approved NYSERDA’s petition for the initial capitalization of the New York Green Bank. More on the Green Bank and New York’s comprehensive clean energy initiatives here.

This might just be the biggest new market-building solar news of the year. Congrats New York for leading the solar charge!

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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