It’s time for New York to take the next step as the “progressive capital of the nation” (to quote Governor Andrew Cuomo in his Jan 2011 Inauguration) and show that we have the conviction to meet the Governor’s calling by taking action to support our very own homegrown solar industry. Yesterday an important bill designed to dramatically increase solar energy investment in New York State was introduced in the New York State Assembly. The bill, titled the New York State Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act (shorthand the “NY Solar Jobs Bill”) of 2011, is a top priority for the NRDC along with a broad coalition of clean energy, labor, investment and environmental community in New York State.
NY has some catching up to do in solar development with rival progressive states NJ and CA –this bill can help us get there.
The NY Solar Jobs Bill would establish a program to develop over 5,000 MW of solar power capacity in the New York State by the year 2025. That’s equivalent to 3 percent of the statewide electric utility load, or enough to power half a million households.
Not only that, but it would create over 22,000 new jobs throughout the State and generate over $22 billion in new, local economic development. That’s money that will go back to our local schools, libraries and vital infrastructure improvement for our neighborhoods and townships. By building up solar power in New York, we can attract more businesses in the burgeoning clean tech sector to set up shop here – further driving up job opportunities and money for the state. All of this while replacing our energy dollars that continue to go out-of-state and pay polluting electricity suppliers.
This solar jobs announcement is just the latest investment New York is making in building a clean and profitable energy economy. It can build on the success of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which has been active in promoting clean energy, creating jobs and lowering energy costs in the state for two years. A report out yesterday found that so far it has already generated $172 million for clean energy projects in New York alone, supporting programs like Green Jobs-Green New York, which can save enough electricity to power nearly 59,000 homes for a year, cut residents energy costs by an estimated $600 million, and support training programs for 6,000 workers. These training programs in particular are already preparing a new crop of highly prized clean energy specialists whose new skills will meet new market demand for solar - via the NY Solar Jobs Act - and other New York-based renewable and energy efficiency industries that are poised for significant growth over the coming years.
But while New York has made significant strides in building up the clean energy industry in the state – our neighbors are outpacing us in the solar race, as the below graphic shows. The NY Solar Jobs Bill will give the state the extra boost it needs to get back on the path of clean energy technology leadership in the Northeast. Let’s kick off this new decade with new energy that promises a brighter future for all.
How NY solar policy (Status Quo in red and proposed Solar Jobs Bill in dotted blue) stacks up against its neighboring states. The status quo will keep us at the back of the pack – but with the NY Solar bill, we can take the lead in the Northeast by 2024.