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New York Sun is Rising

Some BIG solar news from New York! Today, in his 2013 State of the State, Governor Andrew Cuomo made some significant solar proposals. Proposals that will work to fundamentally transform the state's solar market while broadening access to solar, enabling the industry to scale and reducing the cost.

The Governor called for a major expansion of his NY-Sun Initiative.  The original NY-Sun, announced by the Governor at last year’s State of the State, called for doubling solar installations in 2012 and quadrupling in 2013.  However, that program was too small and too intermittent–while helpful, it fell short of accomplishing the job of market transformation.

This year, the Governor announced a long-term commitment to NY-Sun, expanding the program into a 10 year, $150 million/year program. If we’re doing our math right…that’s a billion and a half dollars to develop a world-class solar industry and unleash the many benefits that solar energy delivers.

Here’s the money quote from the Governor’s speech (full text found here).

Extend the NY-Sun Solar Jobs Program (page 31)
Last year Governor Cuomo created the NY-Sun solar jobs program to bolster the use of solar power in New York, while also protecting the ratepayer. The goal of NY-Sun is to install twice as much customer-sited solar photovoltaic capacity in 2012 as was added in 2011, and to quadruple the 2011 amount in 2013. The NY-Sun program is authorized through 2015. This year, Governor Cuomo proposes to extend the successful NY-Sun program, continuing through 2023 the existing annual funding levels established under the program. The extended solar jobs program will provide longer program certainty to solar developers than current programs, funded through 2015, and is expected to attract significant private investment in solar photovoltaic systems, enable the sustainable development of a robust solar power industry in New York, create well-paying skilled jobs, improve the reliability of the electric grid, and reduce air pollution.

If implemented correctly, the Governor’s long-term commitment to NY-Sun can build a robust and sustainable industry that will deliver solar energy cheaper than power from the grid. What we are looking for are the policies and programs that move beyond playing at the margins, and instead seek to develop a market that can grow and ultimately thrive–without incentives.

We believe that the Governor’s 10-year commitment to NY-Sun can deliver this promise. Market transformation will be achieved through prudent incentives that phase-out over time while establishing supportive regulations that remove barriers and increase access to solar power.

With New York at the crossroads of its energy future, the State has a unique opportunity to revisit its solar programs in a comprehensive fashion and build a sustainable market where cost-competitive solar energy is a core component of a 21st century energy infrastructure.

We’ve spent the last several years building support for these ideas, and calling for a long-term solar program to unleash solar throughout New York.  We’re pleased that the Governor is stepping forward with leadership.

Now comes the hard part: turning talk into reality.  The legislature needs to do its part, but a Governor sponsored bill is a very helpful step.

Lead image: Sunrise in New York via Shutterstock

[Editor's note: The topic of U.S. states and incentives will be discussed in detail at the upcoming Solar Power-Gen Conference in San Diego next month. Vote Solar will be there, will you? More info here.]

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