New York State regulators just approved a plan to extend the successful NY-Sun Initiative solar program through 2023. This historic clean energy commitment will result in TEN TIMES more affordable solar up and down the state. The expected 3,000 megawatts of new solar capacity will be enough to power nearly 500,000 New York homes and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2.3 million tons annually. In other words: it's time to solar-brate!
Today's decision is the result of more than five years of blood, sweat and tears from our team, our members, and our strong coalition of environmental, consumer and business groups. Together we have sent tens of thousands of emails urging policymakers to establish a big, bold solar program for New York. We've channeled New York's support for solar through Solar Job Days from Buffalo to Long Island, a Times Square photo contest, and one meme-worthy 'solar spill' billboard. Even Actor Mark Ruffalo took a break from playing a big, green superhero to speak up for the state's big and green solar opportunity.
We are tremendously grateful to all of the New York solar supporters whose voices and actions got us to this win - and especially to Governor Cuomo who turned that support into action with his NY-Sun leadership.
Increased investment in local solar energy is already helping to build a clean, safe and more resilient energy supply throughout New York. Since Governor Cuomo launched the NY-Sun Initiative in 2012, solar energy development has surged bringing with it quality jobs, cleaner air, and valuable distributed generation for a stronger grid. NY-Sun has resulted in almost 300 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity, more than was installed in the entire decade prior to the program. According to The Solar Foundation, the growing solar industry now employs 5,000 New Yorkers, ranking the state 5th in the nation for solar job creation.
And those economic benefits don't stop with the solar industry itself. Solar is giving New York families, schools and businesses control over rising electricity costs like never before. Take the case of GAL Manufacturing, which builds elevator parts at their Bronx factory. Thanks to NY-Sun, they now use solar to help power their operations. If you go to a game at nearby Yankee stadium, keep an eye out for their impressive 988 panel solar array. The 100-year old business has been part of the New York City community for generations. In a Journal-News op-ed Vice President Paul Seifried said, "We’re proud to continue that tradition by being good stewards of the community and reducing pollution — but we went solar because it made good business sense." Solar is reducing the company's electricity bills to the tune of $50,000 each year, savings that allow them to stay, grow and create manufacturing jobs right in New York.
Originally launched as a two-year pilot program, NY-Sun has quickly delivered on its promise of driving solar industry growth and making solar more affordable. Extending the successful program through 2023 means that many more New York energy consumers like GAL will be able to go solar. As Paul and anyone else in business will tell you, "certainty creates confidence and confidence creates the opportunity for growth." We thank Governor Cuomo, NYSERDA and the PSC for giving New York solar that opportunity to shine.
Private investment in solar at this scale reduces the need for utilities to build expensive, polluting power plants and transmission infrastructure, which can help keep rates low for all New Yorkers. The plan’s long-term horizon provides invaluable policy certainty so that industry and consumers can invest with confidence in the state’s solar market over the coming years. By keeping energy dollars invested in New York communities, we calculate that the program will spur $8.3 billion dollars in local economic activity and support 10,000 local solar jobs. And its smart design puts the local industry on a growth path to provide New Yorkers with affordable, competitive solar free of direct state incentives. In other words, today is a big day for New York solar!