Big Win! New York Approves Solar for All

Solar 4 All

Yesterday the New York Public Service Commission established an innovative Shared Renewables program that will expand consumer access to local solar, wind and other clean energy resources, particularly among low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

We joined with more than 70 local and national organizations to celebrate this big win and applaud the Commission and Cuomo Administration for their commitment to a healthier, more resilient, clean energy system that creates opportunities for all New Yorkers to thrive. You can help us thank state leaders by tweeting or posting ‪#‎Solar4All‬!

Audrey Zibelman, Chairwoman of the Public Service Commission, put it best when she said, “It’s the type of thing that is really going to change the world and I’m glad we get to be a part of that.” That was right before she led the Commission to a successful vote.

This new Shared Renewables program is so transformative because it will put solar in the hands of the majority of homes and businesses that face physical barriers to solar. Renters, families and businesses in multi-unit buildings, and homeowners with shaded roofs will be able to participate in a local community solar energy project and receive credit on their energy bill for the clean power produced. Notably, the program set an impressive goal for 20% of participants to be low-income New Yorkers who face additional barriers to solar investment. It’s designed to make solar work for more New Yorkers, including families who have the most to gain from a transition to clean, affordable renewable energy. If you want to dive deeper into the program details, you’ll find our summary here

Following through on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s commitment to expand access to renewable energy, the Commission’s approval of a Shared Renewables program will allow any energy customer to participate in a local renewable energy project and receive credit on their utility bill for their portion of the clean energy produced. The new program is expected to launch in October and will join a dozen other states in the nation that have embraced similar programs.

“The Shared Renewables initiative will help people and communities across the state save money on local clean energy projects,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press statement. “This program is about protecting the environment and ensuring that all New Yorkers, regardless of their zip code or income, have the opportunity to access clean and affordable power. Together, we will build a cleaner and greener New York.”

With the state’s recent commitment to achieve 50% renewable energy by the year 2030, the advent of Shared Renewables will create new opportunities for New Yorkers to be part of making this goal a reality. Actor and clean energy champion Mark Ruffalo had this to say:

“For too long, we have depended on an outdated energy system that pollutes our neighborhoods and wreaks havoc on our climate. We now have the opportunity to harness affordable, clean energy sources and give people the chance to choose or even own their power. The Empire State is seizing this opportunity with a Shared Renewables program that connects every New Yorker – all 100% – with the affordable clean energy we want. There’s no reason community solar or wind programs can’t happen in all 50 states.”

Solar is already working for New York in a big way. Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo announced that – thanks to strong clean energy policies including the NY-Sun and Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiatives – the state’s solar capacity had quadrupled between 2011 and 2014. Today there are more than 456 megawatts of solar installed in New York, enough to power over 77,000 homes. The state’s growing solar economy employs 7,300 New Yorkers according to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census. Now this new Shared Renewables program will empower even more communities, families and businesses to participate in New York’s solar success story.

With the Commission adoption of a new Shared Renewables program, the real work will now begin to put steel in the ground and deliver clean energy to all New Yorkers. As more of the details are released over the coming days, Vote Solar and its partners will continue to focus on ensuring that this program will deliver on its promise of clean energy for all, from Buffalo to Brooklyn.

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