Organizations representing community, social justice, business, and environmental interests today joined together to applaud progress toward expanding clean energy access to more New Yorkers. At its regularly scheduled meeting yesterday, the New York Public Service Commission announced plans to advance Community Shared Renewables, an innovative concept that could enable renters and millions of other New York energy consumers to go solar for the first time.
The Commission will engage in a consultative process to assess New York’s Shared Renewables potential and program design. Solar advocates are celebrating the Commission’s interest in Shared Renewables and are urging the Commission and other policymakers to act quickly to unleash the many economic, environmental and public health benefits of expanded solar access.
“Solar is already creating jobs, putting consumers in charge of their bills, and building healthier, more resilient communities all across New York. Adding a new Shared Renewables program would empower even more New Yorkers to participate in and benefit from the state’s growing new energy marketplace. We applaud the state’s continued leadership and look forward to working with policymakers to connect more New Yorkers with the clean energy they want,” said Peter Olmsted, East Coast Regional Director for Vote Solar, a national solar advocacy group.
New York ranks among the nation’s solar leaders, yet a majority of the state’s energy consumers – including renters, families and businesses in multi-unit buildings, and homeowners with shaded roofs – are unable to invest in their own rooftop solar energy systems. A Shared Renewables program would overcome that barrier to solar adoption by allowing energy customers to subscribe to a local renewable energy project elsewhere in their community and receive a utility bill credit for their portion of the energy produced.
“Solar is delivering tremendous health, environmental and economic benefits to New York, but the traditional panels-on-your-roof approach simply doesn’t work for most of our energy consumers. Families and businesses who rent and plenty of others are left in the dark. We need state leaders to act quickly so that solar can shine for all,” said Aaron Bartley, Executive Director of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo.
“Increasing the net metering cap and pursuing a community shared renewables initiative will allow millions of New Yorkers–including renters and residents of affordable multifamily housing–to be able to power their homes with the energy from the sun, instead of fossil fuels,” said Jackson Morris, Director of Eastern Energy at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “These are significant and innovative steps forward on tackling climate change, reducing the pollution that impacts public health, and building a clean and equitable energy future for New York.”
Sarah Shanley Hope, Executive Director of The Solutions Project, also celebrated the promising news coming out of Albany this week: “2014 has been a solar-powered year in New York. In just the last 11 months, homeowners adopted rooftop solar every few minutes, policy makers launched NY-Sun, and solar businesses returned manufacturing and construction jobs to cities like Buffalo and Binghamton. But this is just the beginning. We must increase the momentum to ensure New York keeps up with the technology and economic transition underway in surrounding states, across the country and world. Now is the time for 100% of New Yorkers to have access to the affordable, secure and healthy energy choice that a community solar program provides.”
“Today our growing clean energy industry is creating thousands of jobs in New York and pumping millions of dollars into our economy. A new shared renewables program could further stimulate these business opportunities and allow customers to work together to bring the renewable energy they want — like solar power, micro-hydropower, or small wind turbines — to their homes, farms, or businesses. The millions of New Yorkers that live in multi-family buildings could have a new option in shared renewable energy for saving on their electric bills. It’s a great next step to unleash more of the economic opportunity and help New York continue to lead the nation in energy innovation,” said Anne Reynolds, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY).
New York Shared Renewables has support from a diverse and growing group of organizations and businesses, including: ACE NY, Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition (BRSC), Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, Clean Energy Collective, Community Energy Solar, Energy Democracy Working Group, GRID Alternatives, Helderberg Community Energy, Nextility, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), NRG Home Solar, New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA), People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Solar One, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), The Solutions Project, Sustainable Tompkins and Vote Solar.
ST Staff Writers
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.