Today the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released its annual report, U.S.Solar Market Insight Report: 2011 Year-in-Review on how the U.S. and individual states are doing toward developing solar energy. No surprise that California and New Jersey remained atop the leaderboard, adding 542 MW and 313 MW, respectively, in 2011. New York saw a commendable gain of 60 MW installed, putting the state in seventh place.
Over 75% of the newly installed solar capacit
Governor Cuomo understands the benefits of solar. The announcement of his New York-Sun Initiative this past January will indeed provide a good short-term investment in solar through 2015. However, New York needs a long-term commitment to truly scale a robust, stand-alone New York solar industry.
Luckily there is a bill pending in the state legislature can fix this (NY Solar Jobs Act), and it has strong bipartisan support. If it passes, we can finally start bringing the new industry, economic benefits and jobs, jobs, jobs that our neighbors in New Jersey are enjoying into the Empire State.
The report out today shows the solar energy industry is the fastest growing industry in the country right now. And the benefits of investing in solar couldn't be more compelling.
Solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt installed than any other energy resource-7 times that of coal or natural gas. The bill pending in New York is expected to create over 20,000 new jobs in the state and create new clean energy equivalent of powering over 500,000 homes. Solar drives local economic development - nurturing new local businesses like Long Island's Sail Energy by Choice and local schools like Resurrection School in Rye, NY, and protecting local budgets like that of Lakewood, NY Volunteer Fire Dept. Solar energy is both safe for our children's health and improves our local air quality.
It provides local businesses and families the opportunity to save on future energy bills with free, reliable, local fuel -- the sun -- to deliver predictably priced power when and where New Yorkers need it most. Again, the pending bill with popular bi-partisan support in both legislative houses can get us there.Regional Spotlight: Long Island is Solar Island
As I mentioned late last year in my blog, "Long Island is Solar Island," - Long Island has enormous solar potential, on par with sunny European countries like Italy and Spain.
This natural resource is backed by the support of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which ranks among the Top Ten U.S. utilities with the most installed solar in their service territory - three years running. Additionally, Long Island is home to over twenty renewable and solar energy (including both photovoltaic and hot water) businesses who are eager to bid and spec out new systems.
Long Island has already made good strides in the past few years to invest in solar. Over 4,000 different solar projects are now contributing clean, local and affordable power on the Island. This includes Including the largest array on the Eastern Seaboard -- enough to power 4,500 homes -- that was commissioned last fall, known simply enough as the Brookhaven National Lab Long Island Solar Farm.
It seems the stars are aligned for solar on Long Island - and the pending bill will help tap into the region's full potential, opening up more jobs and economic benefits for local residents. We just need our leaders in the statehouse to follow through.
To learn more about the pending solar bill and to tell your local state representative that you want New York to be a solar leader, take action here.