Onwards New York

The New York legislative session ended this week without lawmakers enacting the long-term solar policy we worked so hard to support – but there’s still plenty of opportunity to get the job done this year.

The New York Solar Bill would have enacted a 2.2 GW, 10-year extension of the successful NY-Sun Initiative, which is driving growth in the state’s solar industry and lowering solar costs for all New Yorkers. The Senate unanimously passed its version of the bill on Earth Day, and the Assembly voted 76-16 in favor of a different version of the bill last week. Ultimately the two houses were not able to reconcile the two proposals and deliver long-term solar policy to the Governor’s desk before time ran out – so in another nail-biter finish, New Yorkers are left once again without major clean energy legislation. It’s a bitter blow for those that worked so hard, and came so close.

Now the good news: The Governor can just go ahead and take administrative action to implement the 10-year solar program through the PSC and NYSERDA. No need to wait for another legislative session. If you live in New York and want to help us urge action from the Governor, click here.

New York solar leadership has long come from this corner of state government. The Governor himself launched the original two-year NY-Sun Initiative and called for its extension as part of his State of the State address. And just this month the PSC tripled New York’s net metering cap to clear the way for continued rooftop solar growth.

Now once again the Cuomo administration has an opportunity to bear the torch of solar progress. And New Yorkers certainly have his back. An overwhelming majority of voters (89% by our last poll) support increasing the use of solar to meet the state’s power needs. We saw that play out during this legislative session with well over 10,000 New Yorkers urging legislators to pass the solar bill. Heck, even in the legislature itself support was high despite the politics: a whopping 197 out of 213 legislators from up and down the state voted for the bill.

Considering that momentum, the Governor has a clear mandate to move his bold solar vision to successful completion. At a time when the state faces the dual challenges of an economy in recovery and weak energy infrastructure exposed by Hurricane Sandy, this is a roadmap for building a stronger solar powered New York.

All of that is to say: we still expect 2013 to be the year of big New York solar policy. It’s just that the Governor, PSC and NYSERDA will be in the driver’s seat rather than the legislature.  We could not have come this far if it wasn’t for the hard work of our coalition partners and the many New Yorkers who voiced their support. Now let’s keep on going.