FOR MORE INFORMATION:Priya Mulgaonkar, 212.575.5946, email@example.com
NEW YORK, NY. New York ranked 9th nationwide for total solar power capacity and 15th for per capita solar generation through 2014, according to a new report by Environment New York Research & Policy Center.
Lighting the Way III: The Top States that Helped Drive America’s Solar Energy Boom in 2014 says that while New York has enough sunshine to meet its annual electricity needs many times over, it’s not its solar potential that has made the difference. Instead, the state has outpaced sunnier locales like Florida because of policies that allow increasing numbers of homeowners, businesses, communities and utilities to “go solar.”
“With a little bit sunshine and a lot of good clean energy policies on the books, New York State is lighting the way when it comes to solar,” said Priya Mulgaonkar, Campaign Organizer with Environment NY.
New York maintains its 9th-place cumulative solar ranking from last year, but, because of its large population, missed the Top 10 for per-capita solar capacity. However, the state did improve slightly, moving from 16th to 15th in the group’s annual ranking of per-capita solar power.
Of the top 10 states in the report – Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina — all have renewable energy requirements, and nine, including NY, have strong laws to allow solar customers to connect to the electricity grid and sell back their excess power. Environment America reports that a key driver of solar growth has been Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative, a public-private partnership launched in 2012 to expand the state’s solar energy market and drive down the cost of solar power for New Yorkers.
"Our analysis shows that policy choices are a key driver of solar energy growth," said Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, report co-author. “State and local government policy leadership is closely aligned with success in growing solar energy.”
Solar energy has surged across the country in recent years, with capacity tripling since 2012. The industry is adding jobs much faster than the overall economy, employing 7,280 people in NY last year and ranking 4th overall in solar jobs, according to The Solar Foundation.
“We have helped over 100 customers throughout the tri-state area go solar,” said Barrett Silver, VP of Sales & Marketing at SunBlue Energy. “We have been able to grow with the assistance of generous incentives for solar customers on the federal, state and New York City level.”
While New York has several strong clean energy policies on the books, state leaders are poised to take support for clean energy up another notch. In July, Governor Cuomo announced that the growth of solar in New York State has increased more than 300 percent from 2011 to 2014—twice the rate of U.S. solar growth overall—reaffirming the value of the $1 billion NY-Sun Initiative to make clean, resilient and affordable energy accessible for all New Yorkers.
"During the times power is most needed, on bright sunny days, solar is at its best, producing the most renewable clean energy without negatively impacting the environment,” says Mayor Thomas Roach, who sits on the Board of Directors for Sustainable Westchester. “I am proud to see New York as leader in policies supporting clean, renewable energy."
The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which sets state-by-state limits on carbon pollution from coal and gas power plants and was finalized last month, provides additional incentives for NY to accelerate its development of solar energy. According to Environment NY research, solar power could easily meet about half the pollution reduction targets required by the plan.
“Solar power can play a major role in the biggest step our country has ever taken to address climate change,” said Mulgaonkar. “But we can’t stop there. To slow global warming and ensure a healthier planet for future generations, it’s up to states like ours to chart the course to 100 percent clean energy.”
Environment New York Research & Policy Center is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.EnvironmentNewYorkcenter.org