Times Square photo contest: And the winners are . . .

Times Square is about to get a little bit sunnier: starting today, our digital billboard features photographs of real New Yorkers calling for state lawmakers to make the Empire State a solar energy powerhouse by passing the New York Solar Jobs Act of 2011 (S.4178/A.5713) before the end of session on Monday. The featured New Yorkers are winners and finalists in our Empire State Solar Generation Photo Contest – see the full ad below!

The contest drew entries from across the state, from Long Island to Lake George. Pictures featured solar businesses, customers and fans posing in front of panels, holding signs and finding other ways to illustrate New York’s solar potential. In addition to the photos, the broader grassroots campaign elicited more than 10,000 emails and 31,500 letters to lawmakers in support of the New York Solar Jobs Act.

The response was tremendous – as were the photo submissions. But we had to select winners, so without any further ado . . .

The two winners of the Times Square Solar Generation photo contest are:

• Judge’s pick: “Empowering New York with Solar” from Sustainable Flatbush. The photo features Solar Team member Kimberly White and the Brooklyn-based organization’s SunBike, a mobile solar electric system designed to educate and empower school kids, community residents and local businesses. The SunBike was built with support from Con Edison.

Credit: Keka Marzagao/SustainableFlatbush

• Fan favorite: “Employed, and Saving the Planet for our Future” from Solar Rainbow. With offices in New York and New Jersey, Solar Rainbow is a solar installer that has created over 47 jobs since it was founded last year. The photo features children from the business owner’s family in green hard hats surrounding a solar panel.

Credit: Solar Rainbow

Our finalists includes: New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer urging Queens to become “the king of solar.” The New York League of Conservation Voters showing that solar for Staten Island is a “ferry good idea.” The Russos from EcoOutfitters.net giving solar two solid thumbs up. The contest even had some star power with a photo from Ryan Park, a current contestant on a popular network reality TV show and executive at a major U.S. solar company, REC Solar. Thes winners and finalists will all be gracing the Times Square billboard in a sunny slideshow beginning today.

Congrats to our winners and to all who participated! There’s no better place to show New York lawmakers, and the world, that solar is ready for primetime than iconic Times Square.

With rising electricity demand, plenty of sunshine, and a local workforce primed for green jobs, New York has the key components needed to lead the new solar economy. But the state’s outdated policy structure has supported less than 54 megawatts (MW) of installed solar to date. By comparison, neighboring New Jersey installed more than twice that much solar in 2010 alone. Without strong solar policy, the Empire State is missing a tremendous opportunity to invest its energy dollars in local jobs, economic opportunity and a brighter future for the state.

The New York Solar Jobs Act would build a robust, competitive new solar energy marketplace in New York by requiring the state’s electricity providers to obtain an increasing portion of their electricity from solar power until they achieve 3% in 2025. The bi-partisan legislation is sponsored by Assemblymember Steven Englebright (D-Setauket) and Senator George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane).

Thanks again to all who helped us show lawmakers that New York is ready for solar. If Albany passes the New York Solar Jobs Act in time, we’ll all be winners! Voice your support in these final hours here. Or even better, make a quick call to Governor Cuomo’s office at (518) 474-8390 letting him know you support the New York Solar Jobs Act.