For Immediate Release: March 6, 2012
Contact: Michael Rabinowitz, 646-452-5637
Coalition of Business, Environmental, and Labor Groups Lobby in Support of Bi-partisan Measures to Create Robust Solar Program
Adding 5,000 of Megawatts of Solar Power Can Create Thousands of New Jobs, Modernize Power in New York, Benefit Consumers
Solar Power Has Broad Support from Republicans and Democrats, All Regions of the State
ALBANY, NY- Today, a coalition pushing for increased solar energy production in New York State met with legislators in Albany, urging them to create a robust solar program in New York this year. Incentivizing the development of a robust and effective solar market has wide bi-partisan support. Governor Cuomo announced his plan for the initial years of a more robust program in the State of the State address, which the advocates welcome as a necessary first step to ongoing growth of solar energy in New York. Legislation in the Assembly has 76 co-sponsors and legislation in the Senate has 33 co-sponsors from both parties.
The advocates argue that a longer-term, larger goal would create new local jobs and simultaneously improve air quality while supporting installations at the residential, commercial and utility sectors to minimize cost and maximize benefit to New York ratepayers.
“There is no question that we need to invest in New York's energy infrastructure,” said Carrie Hitt, Vice President of State Affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association. “We can choose to invest in business-as-usual practices or set the state on a better course forward. Making that investment in solar would tap a reliable, free, local fuel — the sun — to deliver predictably priced power when and where New Yorkers need it most.”
Unlike surrounding states, New York does not currently have a binding, long term megawatt goal for solar energy, thus compelling the market to pursue opportunities elsewhere. It is unlikely that the solar industry will invest on a large scale in the state until New York adopts such a policy.
“As a renewable energy project developer and operations & maintenance company, we understand an investment today in solar energy is an investment in the future of the local economy and community,” said Virinder Singh, Director of Regulatory/Legislative Affairs at enXco. “Today we are installing solar in Suffolk County, Long Island, providing jobs and clean energy now. We are committed to the solar future for New York- employing more people, improving the reliability of the grid, and diversifying the energy portfolio.”
“More solar power means cleaner air and more efficient power for all New Yorkers,” said Pierre Bull, Policy Analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Taking concrete steps to make our air cleaner is something that will benefit millions of people in neighborhoods all over the state.”
“We look forward to making a robust solar program in New York a reality,” said Carol E. Murphy, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Inc. “With an accelerated program in place to support the growth of our solar industry, New York will attract the investment it needs to create new jobs and build a thriving in-state market.”
“Solar energy isn’t just the right thing to do for the environment. Right now, New York is losing our competitive advantage to other states like New Jersey that have robust, long-term solar programs,” said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “New York needs those economic benefits and new jobs now more than ever, and that’s why solar must be a big part of our state’s energy future.”
"New York stands at an energy crossroads: the state can continue its business as usual approach or build a safer, healthier local energy economy by harnessing homegrown solar power. There's no question that New Yorkers support the latter new direction," said Peter Olmsted, New York State policy lead for the Vote Solar Initiative.
“Solar installations nationwide grew by 140% in 2011, making solar the fastest growing industry in the country”, said Ron Kamen, President of the NY Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA). “New York’s elected leaders have a chance to enable New York to take advantage of the plummeting price of solar panels and position the state to again be a national leader as solar rapidly becomes the least-cost delivered energy source.”
“A strong commitment to solar power represents the best opportunity we have to put New Yorkers back to work generating clean, reliable electricity for our state,” said Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “If Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature do the right thing, we can reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels, improve our air quality and our health and develop a robust clean energy economy right here in New York.”
“92% of Americans want the nation to develop and use solar technology,” said David VanLuven, Director of Environment New York. “It’s time for New York to take the lead in shifting our homes and businesses from being energy consumers to energy producers.”
"New York was once a leader when it came to clean energy and cutting the pollution changing our climate. We can be that leader again if state lawmakers commit to a cleaner energy future. The Solar Jobs Act can help the Empire State get back on track," said Ross Gould, Air & Energy Program Director, Environmental Advocates of New York. "In addition to creating thousands of good, new jobs, the Solar Jobs Act has the potential to cut pollution equivalent to taking nearly 2,700,000 cars off the road."
The New York Solar Jobs Coalition is an historic collaboration of organized labor, the solar industry and environmental organizations working to promote and develop good jobs in the clean energy economy. The coalition believes that investments in New York’s solar industry go hand in hand with economic development, job creation and sound environmental policy. The coalition recently called for an expansion of solar power that would create sustainable, clean energy and create new, sustainable jobs and released a statement of principles.
All members of the Coalition agree that applying labor protection laws, specifically the prevailing wage law, to the installation of photovoltaic devices above a certain size threshold is the best way to ensure that New York is expanding solar technology while at the same time creating good, local, family-supporting green jobs.
Solar Jobs Coalition
General Statement of Principles
New York State is facing two connected fiscal, policy and political imperatives: we must create sustainable, clean energy and we must create new, sustainable jobs. To make both sustainable we need more than a single project or even several projects—we need a well thought out program and the fiscal, policy and political will to carry the program forward. The New York Solar Jobs Coalition is an historic collaboration of organized labor, the solar industry and environmental organizations working to promote and develop good jobs in the clean energy economy. We believe that investments in New York’s solar industry go hand in hand with economic development, job creation and sound environmental policy.
We believe that the State must set an ambitious solar goal by a date certain – equivalent to 5,000 megawatts of solar on the grid by 2025. We also believe that the State must develop policies that stimulate the demand for and incentivize the local manufacture of products in the solar supply chain.
The Coalition understands the environmental imperative of reducing carbon emissions and recognizes the role of small businesses in delivering residential solar installation at the neighborhood level. The Coalition believes that providing businesses throughout the state with a stable and predictably-priced energy option will enhance their competitiveness and allow them to continue to invest in local operations and jobs. We also believe that no State incentive program will be successful unless it is designed to scale and developed to create demand in the commercial marketplace. All members of the Coalition agree that applying labor protection laws, specifically the prevailing wage law, to the installation of photovoltaic devices above a certain size threshold is the best way to ensure that New York is expanding solar technology while at the same time creating good, local, family-supporting green jobs.
The New York Solar Jobs Coalition supports Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders who are committed to the expansion of New York’s solar industry. We applaud the inclusion of a solar jobs impact study in the Power NY Act of 2011 and we look forward to the study’s results. A reliable supply of affordable energy over the long-term is key to New York’s economic future. Investments in renewable energy have the added value of contributing to a cleaner, healthier and safer future.
This initiative is about energy security, the creation of good jobs, and investment in New York. With a good faith effort on all sides, we look forward as a united coalition to working with New York’s elected officials to develop a solar jobs program that will position our state as a national leader in the development of solar energy and good, green jobs.
The statement of principles has broad political and general support from across many fields in New York.