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NY State Senate Passes Major Solar Energy Bill Extending Cuomo's NY-Sun Initiative

Pierre Bull

Posted April 23, 2013

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The New York State Senate today passed legislation to extend Governor Cuomo's NY-Sun Initiative through 2023 and solidify the state’s long-term commitment to solar energy. Today’s bipartisan vote for the New York Solar Bill (S.2522) indicates growing support among lawmakers for delivering comprehensive solar policy to Governor Cuomo’s desk this legislative session.

Here's what Governor Cuomo had to say about extending the NY-Sun Initiative back in his January 2013 State of the State Address:

The long-term commitment to solar energy represented by NY-Sun will make New York State a leader nationally in solar development.

Hear hear!

About the New York Solar Bill (NY-Sun Act)

The New York Solar Bill (NY-Sun Act) would build on the success of the NY-Sun Initiative, a public-private partnership designed to drive growth in the state’s solar industry and lower solar costs for homes, businesses, schools and other energy users. As a press release from Cuomo’s office puts it:

Program certainty is critical to developers in attracting significant private sector investment in solar photovoltaic systems. Therefore, expanding the NY-Sun program will support the growth of the solar industry across the state by providing stable and dependable funding of $150 million per year for the next ten years. By funding NY-Sun for the next decade, the state is enabling the sustainable development of a robust solar power industry in New York, creating well-paying skilled jobs, improving the reliability of the electric grid and reducing air pollution.

Sponsored by Senator George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane) and Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D- Setauket), the bill is expected to deliver the following benefits:

  • Build at least 2,200 megawatts (MW) of solar, according to our own estimates; that is enough clean, reliable electricity to power 400,000 New York homes. (New York currently ranks 12th in the country for total installed solar capacity.) 
  • Create thousands of new local jobs in New York. (3,300 New Yorkers are employed in the state’s growing solar industry.)
  • Save New Yorkers billions by reducing the need to fire up our (and out-of-state imports) of the dirtiest and most expensive fossil power plants.
  • Spur millions of dollars of investment in the state's growing clean energy economy. 

The NY-Sun Initiative Performance To-Date

Since the NY-Sun Program's successful launch over a year ago, which this new bill will build upon, the amount of solar in New York has tripled, surpassing the interim goal of the program (which was to double solar in New York from 2011 to 2012). A total of 190 MW of customer-sited solar capacity—enough to power over 34,000 homes—has either been installed or was under development at the end of last year thanks to this program.

The chart below from NYSERDA's annual performance review of the New York Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) shows more detail on just how much solar is coming online.

NY-Sun Program performance chart

Table 8. New York State Customer-Sited PV Capacity Additions in 2012 [MW]

And now fast forward just a mere 120 days, and the state is on track to meeting Governor Cuomo's latest solar goal, this time to "quadruple the 2011 [megawatt-based amount of] installations in 2013." In just the first four months of the year, at least an additional 50 megawatts are now contracted to be built in New York State.

Given the promise for the solar industry in the state—along with the economic and climate change-combating benefits that come with it—it’s no surprise that the NY-Sun Act has support from a coalition of businesses, trade associations and environmental groups.

Sunny days are indeed ahead for New York with the NY-Sun Act. Onto the Assembly!

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Eileen NewmanApr 24 2013 09:16 PM

These actions are a continued move in the right direction. As solar becomes more accessible, more and more people will adopt it. On the consumer side, it's important that we remove as many barriers to purchase as possible by providing accurate information as well as transparency to the process of shopping for solar. The DOE funded a project by EnergySage as part of its Sunshot Initiative that is providing this kind of support--free to the consumer. The EnergySage Solar Marketplace functions as a "Lending Tree" for solar allowing people to solicit and evaluate quotes via an automated, apples to apples web tool.

Pierre BullApr 24 2013 10:33 PM

Thank you, Eileen, for your thoughts in response. I am confident that solar will join the ranks of other major energy supplies to keep New York's economy prosperous into this century. I think the Energy Sage website is great and provides very helpful -- one could say 'sage' -- advice on energy choices for all types of energy consumers.

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