Today I had the privilege of attending the groundbreaking ceremony on the construction of 17 megawatts of new solar photovoltaic arrays (equivalent to powering 1,800 homes) on Eastern Long Island with New York Governor David Paterson. The arrays will span across 7 large parking lots throughout Long Island and will be constructed by Mercury Solar, owned and managed by enXco, who will in turn sell the solar-produced power to the Long Island Power Authority under a 20-year "power purchase" contract. Numerous economic and environmental benefits will be generated (see bullet points below).
Suffolk County Executive, Steve Levy, made a good point on how these solar canopy projects will immediately improve the lives of local Long Island commuters, "not only do solar carports generate clean energy, but they provide a convenient shelter from hot sun or inclement weather for drivers.”
Governor Paterson also noted a number of economic, job and environmental benefits:
- $8.5-$9 million in Suffolk County lease revenue;
- $10 million in local material procurement;
- $1.2 million for local school districts and towns; and
- The creation of 150-200 jobs during the construction phase of the project
- Reducing carbon emissions by 14,300 tons annually (equivalent to removing 2,447 gas-powered cars)
New York Still Needs Long-term Solar Energy Legislation
There’s no denying that solar projects like these are a big benefit to local economies and are significant early steps along the path to a clean energy future. However, in order for New York make bigger leaps in clean energy investment, and achieve status as a solar energy leader – like neighboring state New Jersey – the state needs to pass comprehensive solar energy legislation. Governor-Elect Cuomo appears to have gotten the message. Will Albany legislators also understand that solar is good for their local constituency? If not, we’ll be sure they do when they come to town in January.