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 America Research & Policy Center

10 Ways to Help Your City Go Solar

Last month's Shining Cities report detailed how cities are good for solar and solar is good for cities. We've seen some impressive strides across the nation to momentously expand our solar capabilities. But we're not where we need to be yet. To obtain a clean energy future your cities and towns need to do even more. Here's how to push them in the right direction! 

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News Release | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

Environment New York Report Examines Climate Change Through a Generational Perspective

Young adults in New York are experiencing hotter temperatures and more intense storms than their predecessors did in the 1970’s, according to a new report by Environment New York Research & Policy Center.

The analysis, Dangerous Inheritance: The Hotter, More Extreme Climate that We’re Passing Down to America’s Young, examines changes in temperature, storm intensity and sea level rise through the eyes of five different generations. New Yorkers of today are experiencing 19 percent more precipitation than Baby Boomers experienced in the 1970s. And the Millennial Generation entered adulthood during the hottest ten-year period in the last 100 years.

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Report | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

Dangerous Inheritance

As a result of global warming, young Americans today are growing up in a different climate than their parents and grandparents experienced. It is warmer than it used to be. Storms pack more of a punch. Rising seas increasingly flood low-lying land. Large wildfires have grown bigger, more frequent and more expensive to control. People are noticing changes in their own backyards, no matter where they live. Pollution from burning coal, oil and gas is the primary cause of global warming.

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News Release | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

New York City Among Regions Solar Leaders

New York City ranks 9th for total solar panels in the nation, and 1st in the Mid-Atlantic and New England Regions according to Environment New York Research and Policy Center’s new analysis, Shining Cities: Harnessing the Benefits of Solar Energy in America. The solar stature of the city is owed largely to the clear commitment of the city’s leaders, as well as Governor-Cuomo’s successful NY-SUN Initiative, advocates said today. 

“New York City is a star when it comes to solar power,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “We hope state leaders and other New York cities will follow this shining example.”

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Report | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

Shining Cities

The use of solar power is expanding rapidly across the United States. By the end of 2014, the United States had 20,500 megawatts (MW) of cumulative solar electric capacity, enough to power four million average U.S. homes. This success is the outcome of federal, state and local programs that are working in concert to make solar power accessible to more Americans, thereby cleaning our air, protecting our health, and hedging against volatile electricity prices.

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