Late last week New York lawmakers went home for the summer without passing the NY Solar Jobs Act that we all worked so hard to advance. Friends, we are disappointed that we don’t have a brand new big solar program to celebrate, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about a bright future for solar in the Empire State.
As we have remarked before the effort to make New York a solar powerhouse has been an incredible ride.
* The bill’s many economic and environmental benefits gained strong bi-partisan support from legislators. In the senate alone there were 31 sponsors and co-sponsors. That’s nearly half the body!
* Our grassroots coalition helped encourage New York voters to send more than 10,000 emails and 31,500 letters to lawmakers.
* Our industry campaign elicited memos of support from well over 100 organizations including biggies like Dow, GE, and Staples.
* NY sports heroes and reality TV stars upped the wattage with their public support.
* Times Square got a little sunnier thanks to our photo contest that drew submissions from solar fans from upstate and down.
* And that all earned the campaign tons of great press coverage in New York and beyond.
And yet, between a race to get the state budget passed on time and earn a high-profile victory for gay marriage, NY lawmakers did not pass the Solar Jobs Act. However, in the final days of their busy session, Albany did pass an omnibus energy bill, the Power NY Act, which touches on a number of issues that are relevant to the state’s clean economy. It streamlines power plant siting (this includes wind and solar projects), allows on-bill financing for the Green Jobs/Green NY efficiency retrofit program and . . . drumroll please . . . orders a cost/benefit study for the very solar goals that were set forth in the NY Solar Jobs Act.
That’s right, lawmakers heard your call for a solar powered NY, and ended the tale of this year’s session with a big bookmark in the form of a solar study that must be delivered by January 1, 2012. And you can bet that we’ll be working to speed this along so that New Yorkers can begin to reap the benefits of a strong solar market sooner rather than later.
Needless to say we are disappointed by the delay in the bill’s passage – a move that means New York will miss out on immediate opportunities for federal funding, economic development and new job opportunities as neighboring states continue to charge ahead. However, NY legislators’ attention to solar over the course of the 2011 session as well as the ultimate inclusion of the solar study provision in Power NY Act indicate real interest in advancing New York’s solar economy.
We couldn’t have come this far without the tremendous support and hard work of our fellow advocates, businesses and individual solar fans. With your continued help, we’re confident that we’ll get ‘em yet!
And so, this summer we plan on taking these lemons and turning them into … delicious solar powered margaritas.
Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.