“Solar is working for the Empire State in a big way. Record numbers of New Yorkers are harnessing sunshine to save on their energy bills, which is creating local jobs and reducing the need for traditional polluting power. This new program will empower even more communities, families and businesses to participate in that great solar success story,” said Sean Garren, Northeast Regional Manager for Vote Solar, a national solar advocacy organization. “We thank Governor Cuomo, his administration and the PSC for making equal access to solar a priority and for speeding our transition to a healthier, more resilient clean energy system.”
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 property owners with shaded roofs – are unable to invest in their own rooftop solar energy systems. Low-income consumers who lack access to financing face additional barriers to solar participation. Following through on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s commitment to expand access to renewable energy, the PSC today issued a final order for a Shared Renewables program that will allow any energy customer to participate in a local renewable energy project and receive a credit for their portion of the clean energy produced on their utility bill. The new program is expected to launch later this year.
“For too long, we have depended on an outdated energy system that pollutes our neighborhoods and wreaks havoc on our climate.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,” said Actor Mark Ruffalo who co-chairs the 100% campaign, a project of the Solutions Project, on whose board he sits.
“This new approach will help make solar work for many more New Yorkers, especially the disadvantaged communities who have the most to gain from a transition to clean, affordable renewable energy. It will mean solar savings for families who otherwise struggle to pay their monthly utility bills. And it will give communities that have borne the burden of our polluting fossil fuel system for far too long a way to be active participants in the renewable energy solution,” said Aaron Bartley, executive director of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo.
“Many of the families who have the most to benefit from low-cost solar energy face real barriers like not owning their home or being able to afford a loan; that’s why shared solar is such a transformative concept – and Solar One is ready to help deliver on its promise. Our Here Comes Solar initiative is already working with community partners in the five boroughs to develop pilot shared solar projects that will provide lower-cost electricity to low-income renters across New York City,” said Elana Bulman, Program Manager for Here Comes Solar, a project of Solar One.
“Community solar models can provide another way for low-income families to benefit from solar, and we look forward to working to ensure that New York’s programs are accessible to those families and also provide them with significant long-term energy cost reductions,” said Stan Greschner, Vice President of Government Relations for GRID Alternatives.
“With over 90 projects built or underway across 10 states and 21 utilities, we have seen firsthand the positive impacts community shared solar brings to local communities,” said Hannah Masterjohn, Director of Policy and New Markets at Clean Energy Collective, the nation’s largest provider of community shared solar. “We commend Governor Cuomo and the PSC for their leadership in enabling more New Yorkers to choose affordable solar power and invest in the state’s growing clean energy economy.”
Shared Renewables builds on New York’s successful clean energy policies including the historic NY-Sun and Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiatives. Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo announced that the state’s solar capacity 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.
New York Shared Renewables has support from a coalition that is managed by Vote Solar with participation from more than 70 organizations acting together to expand access to clean energy, including: 350 NYC, AllEarth Renewables, Alliance for a Green Economy, Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Ansche Chesed, Association for Energy Affordability, Aytzim: Ecological Judaism, Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, Borrego Solar Systems, Building Bridges Steering Committee, Campaign for Renewable Energy, Center for Social Inclusion, Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, Chhaya CDC, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Clean Energy Collective, Community Energy, Inc., Community Power, Community Voices Heard (CVH), Concrete Green, Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition, East Midwood Jewish Center, Eden Village Camp, El Puente, Emerald Cities, Environment New York, Fifth Avenue Committee, Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company, GRID Alternatives, Hazon, Helderberg Community Energy, Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Hudson Solar, Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Kolot Chayeinu, Lampros Solar, Left Labor Project, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica, Neighborhood Housing Services of Staten Island, New York League of Conservation Voters, Nextility, NRG Home Solar, Nuclear Information & Resource Service, NY Interfaith Power & Light, NYC Friends of Clearwater, Pace Energy and Climate Center, PathStone, Public Policy & Education Fund of New York (PPEF), Push Solar, Romemu, RUPCO, Sane Energy Project, Sierra Club, Social Ventures, Solar One, Solutions Project, Standard Solar, SUNY ESF Sustainable Energy Club, Sustainable Hudson Valley, Sustainable South Bronx, Sustainable Tompkins, Tompkins County Workers’ Center, United for Action, UPROSE, Uri L’Tzedek, Orthodox Social Justice, Vote Solar, Weaver Wind Energy, West End Synagogue and Zen Center New York City.
ST Staff Writers
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.