It’s time for New York to go big on solar power

More of us are going solar, meeting our energy needs in a way that’s clean, local and independent. Consider:

  • Solar power has tripled in the U.S. in the last two years, with another American family or business going solar every four minutes.
  • That’s in part because the price of solar has dropped more than 50 percent since 2011.
  • The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that “solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything...It could double every  two years.”

Who's attacking solar?

Unfortunately, solar power’s rapid growth has alarmed some dirty energy companies. They keep putting up new roadblocks to solar -- so they can keep solar generating less than 3% of our power, even if it means more pollution and more global warming.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Charles and David Koch, owners of the oil conglomerate Koch Industries, and their allies have spent heavily to impose new taxes on homeowners who go solar – in effect, penalizing those who reduce their pollution and their carbon footprint.
  • The Edison Electric Institute, which represents electric utility companies, has teamed up with the American Legislative Exchange Council to dismantle state pro-solar laws in Kansas, North Carolina and Washington State, amid others.
  • Oklahoma, Arizona and Ohio already have moved to scale back their solar programs.

Keep the solar surge going strong

Solar power might disrupt the business plans of dirty energy companies, but it makes a ton of sense for America.

That’s why people from all walks of life are getting behind solar, from environmentalists to Tea Party activists, from solar entrepreneurs to Barry Goldwater, Jr., son of the former Republican nominee for president.

Our challenge is to not only fend off the attacks being led by the dirty energy lobby, but to keep the surge in solar power going strong.

How do we do it?

Our research shows the cities and states with the most solar power aren’t necessarily the ones with the most sunshine; they also include states with smart pro-solar policies. For example:

  • Arizona, Hawaii and California made the list of the top 10 states for solar in our 2014 report. But so did Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado and Delaware, all thanks to smart policies.
  • The top 10 solar states, with only 26% of the nation’s population, were responsible for 87% of the nation’s solar power.
  • Our report found all or nearly all of the states shared a set of smart policies in common, from strong clean energy standards to policies that let solar homeowners sell their extra power back to the utilities.

20 percent solar by 2025

We need more and better pro-solar policies, not fewer. That’s why we’re urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make commitments that will help put New York on the road to 100% clean energy, with 20 percent solar by 2025. 

Achieving this state goal would help move our country closer to the national goal of getting 10 percent solar by 2030. This would produce immediate and long-lasting benefits for our environment, including removing 280 million metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere by 2030—the equivalent of taking 59 million cars off the road.

Let's go big on solar

We think a combination of professional research and advocacy with community action can help New York go big on solar. Why? Our national federation has done it before.

Environment California spearheaded the campaign for that state’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative. In Massachusetts, we helped convince the state to set a goal of enough solar to power 50,000 homes – and then persuaded the state to raise the goal when it hit the original milestone ahead of schedule. We’ve also won pro-solar policies in Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Arizona, New Jersey and North Carolina.            

But we have a long way to go to reach solar power’s true potential.

It’s time to go big on solar. If we take the right steps today, we can harness more power from the sun so we can finally leave dirty energy behind. The sky really is the limit.

Issue updates

Report | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

Blocking the Sun

Solar power is clean, affordable and popular with the American people. The amount of solar energy installed in the U.S. has quadrupled in the last four years, and the U.S. has enough solar energy installed to power one in 20 American homes.

America’s solar progress is largely the result of bold, forward-thinking public policies that have created a strong solar industry while putting solar energy within the financial reach of millions more Americans.

> Keep Reading
Report | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

Shining Rewards

Solar energy is on the rise in the United States. Through September 2016, more than 31 gigawatts of solar electric capacity had been installed around the country, enough to power more than 6 million homes. The rapid growth of solar energy in the United States is the result of forward-looking policies that are helping the nation reduce its contribution to global warming and expand its use of local renewable energy sources.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment New York

Northeast States Must Take Stronger Action Against Pollution

Today, representatives of nine states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are meeting to discuss taking stronger action to cut global warming pollution. These states, part of a regional program that limits pollution from power plants called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, are preparing to make a decision about how much to cut pollution from 2020 to 2030. Environment New York and a broad coalition are urging the states to be more ambitious.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has already been a huge success – the states in the region have collectively reduced power plant pollution by an average of 5 percent per year since 2005, and the program has generated more than $2.5 billion for clean energy investment.  Based on materials released by the states before today’s meeting, the states are now considering cutting pollution from power plants at a slower rate, between 2.5 and 3.5 percent per year. Instead of allowing slower progress, a broad coalition of non-profit groups, businesses and investors concerned about climate change are asking the states to step up their ambition and ensure that pollution continues to fall at least 5 percent per year. Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York, released the following statement to call for the states to set stronger pollution reduction goals.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment New York

New U.S. Climate Plan Sets a Course Toward Clean Energy

Today, as international negotiators discuss approaches to limit global warming at climate talks in Morocco, the United States announced a long-term goal for reducing pollution. The goal, and an accompanying plan for how to achieve it, would set the United States on a course to reduce global warming pollution at least 80 percent below 2005 levels by mid-century.

This goal is consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement, endorsed by the United States and nearly 200 other nations around the world last December and now officially in effect as of November 4. The Agreement sets out to limit the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, with an aspirational goal of 1.5° C—a benchmark that scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment New York

BOEM announcement big step forward for Offshore Wind in New York

Today, Department of Interior Secretary, Sally Jewel, and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director, Abby Hopper, announced the lease sale notice for over 79,000 acres off of the coast of New York. Citing strong industry interest in the opportunity to develop off Long Island, advocates lauded the announcement as another important step toward realizing offshore wind. 

> Keep Reading

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