Assembly Energy Committee Gives Solar Energy, Jobs a Big Boost

Bill puts a charge into New York’s solar energy marketplace
May 11, 2010

Albany – Assembly Energy Committee Chair Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) announced the Energy Committee has passed legislation designed to make New York a leader in solar energy. The Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act of 2010 (A.11004), sponsored by Assemblymember Steven Englebright (D-East Setauket), is a market-based approach that will accelerate investments in solar power throughout New York.

“New York has a huge untapped potential for solar energy, particularly in the hot summer months when electricity demand peaks,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “This innovative program compliments our already successful efforts at promoting wind, biomass and hydro power. It is a cost effective solution that will allow us to meet our energy needs with clean, renewable power while at the same time strengthening our electric grid and reducing the need to run expensive peaking power plants.”

“The advancement of this bill shows that New York recognizes the strategic importance and lasting benefits of solar development by moving to create an effective market support policy to bolster private investment and industry growth,” said Assemblymember Englebright. “This strong new solar initiative will create new jobs, increase energy independence, reduce global warming pollution, and improve electricity system reliability.”

The Solar Jobs Act provides the scale and diversity needed for New York to tap an immense economic opportunity. The bill establishes a policy framework to achieve over 5,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power capacity by the year 2025 with interim targets of achieving 500 MW by 2015 and 1,500 MW by 2020. This would solidify New York’s place among the nation’s leaders in the solar industry. The legislation supports a broad diversity of business models, developers, system sizes and technologies so that growth can occur in all market segments.

The bill is designed to enable investment from multiple sectors to advance New York’s solar energy market. Leveraging “patient capital” that utilities access through established low-cost financing, the program authorizes utilities to own and operate solar systems for the purpose of achieving up to 25 percent of the requirements in this bill. Additionally, at least 20 percent of the solar energy must come from “small” retail customer-sited systems, and at least an additional 30 percent be derived from retail customer-sited installations of any size.

The PSC, LIPA and NYPA must report annually to the Governor and Legislature on the progress of the program in meeting the established goals. Additionally, utilities must submit their solicitation and procurement plans for achieving their obligations to the PSC for review and approval. LIPA and NYPA must also submit plans for meeting their requirements to the Governor, Comptroller, and the Legislature while also making them make them publicly available.

"This bill will have a profound impact on New York's solar industry. We have all the necessary resources for a strong solar market - plenty of sunshine, a diverse supply chain, and a capable workforce. All we need is legislation to create a market,” said Carol E. Murphy, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY).

“The Solar Jobs Act draws on proven best practices to establish New York as a real leader in the new energy economy. It’s a blueprint for solar growth designed to deliver job, electricity rate and environmental benefits to New Yorkers from Niagara Falls to Long Island,” said Shaun Chapman, East Coast Campaigns Director for the Vote Solar Initiative, a national grassroots solar advocacy organization.

“If enacted, this landmark legislation would put New York State on the solar map. The bill builds the kind of stable, long-term and significant solar market that will encourage companies like ours to make the same major investment in the local work force and operations that we’ve made in neighboring states,” said Fred Zalcman, Managing Director of Government Affairs for Maryland-based SunEdison LLC, the world’s leading solar energy services provider.

“As one of the leading global solar companies, SunPower manufactures, designs and installs high-efficiency solar modules for residential, commercial, and utility-scale solar projects. This bill provides the foundations for sustained growth across all those market sectors -precisely the type of policy framework that attracts companies like ours to build a local workforce and invest in expanded operations in a state," said Jim Torpey, SunPower Corporation's Director of Market Development.

"This bill vaults New York to the forefront among states that are building strong local markets, bright spots of new economic opportunity and investment. It sends a clear signal to companies like ours that New York – long considered the ‘sleeping giant’ of markets for solar energy in the US - is awakening and open for solar business,” said Marc Roper, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Tioga Energy.