With growing electricity needs, strong public support for solar, and impressive in-state financial and manufacturing might, New York is well-positioned to be a leader in the new energy economy. While the state has taken some important steps in the right direction, its policy structure has only supported a very modest amount of installed solar to date. As a result, clean energy jobs and investment have been pouring over its borders into neighboring states that have much stronger policies in place. We’re working to help change all that by setting aggressive, long-term goals and designing smart programs that will unleash New York’s solar potential.
Recap of 2012
The New York legislature shut its doors for 2012 without passing the Solar Jobs Act or any long-term solar program. Although the Empire State missed a significant opportunity for solar power, we wielded a tremendous amount of momentum since the beginning of the year. And through it all, Governor Cuomo reaffirmed his commitment to making New York a solar leader—first with his New York Sun Initiative and then with his proposal to extend this program out through 2022. Combining both direct incentives and efforts focused on reducing installation costs, it is clear that the NY-Sun Initiative is an important step for the state to become a solar powerhouse.
While Albany did not pass big, bold solar policy this year, the legislature did pass important smaller provisions that will make solar more affordable for people in New York City and for people who participate in popular third-party solar financing arrangements all across the state. Specifically, New York’s residential tax credit was broadened to include solar systems that are leased through a third-party. Legislation was also passed to ensure that New York City’s property tax abatement would be extended past the end of 2012.
Following the 2012 legislative session, the NY Solar Jobs Coalition is confident there will be another bite at the long term solar policy apple in 2013.
Policies Driving Solar Today
Over the past several years, New York has primarily supported solar development through incentive programs administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) as part of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. And on Long Island, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) has followed suit by offering rebates for residential and commercial systems. In 2012, both agencies doubled down on their support for solar as part of Governor Cuomo’s New York Sun Initiative. The NY Sun Initiative serves as a shot in the arm for stimulating solar development while also seeking to address cost prohibitive issues such as permitting.
Along with the positive developments under NY Sun, policies such as net metering and tax incentives have established an important foundation for New York to build upon. However, with the state’s solar policy structure oriented towards the short-term, this surging industry is attracted to markets with greater long-term certainty. What New York needs is a long-term policy framework that will instill confidence in developers, investors and customers that New York is open for business.
Vote Solar Campaign Priorities
With no clear future trajectory, New York’s current solar incentive programs fall short of delivering on the goal of an incentive-free and sustainable solar market. The policies that support solar development today must be designed with an eye for tomorrow to fundamentally transform New York into a leading market for solar. Market transformation will be achieved through prudent incentives that phase-out over time while establishing supportive regulations that remove barriers and increase access to solar power.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New York is at the crossroads of its energy future. The State has a unique opportunity to revisit its solar programs in a comprehensive fashion and build a sustainable market where cost-competitive solar energy is a core component fo a 21st century energy infrastructure. In 2013, Vote Solar will pursue a 4-point plan in advocating for policies that will transform New York’s solar market.
- Design NY-Sun incentives to transform the market by 2022 – Deliver over 3,500 MW of cost-effective retail and wholesale solar capacity.
- Reduce costs and eliminate barriers for solar development – Adopt transparent, efficient and consistent permitting and interconnection processes, and increase net metering program limits.
- Unleash private sector investment through broader access to solar – Enable shared solar and Solarize opportunities, and establish financing programs such as commercial PACE.
- Maximize grid resiliency using solar energy – Prioritize solar energy in a post-Hurricane Sandy paradigm, including market access for combined solar and storage technologies.
Vote Solar lead for New York is Peter Olmsted.