By Roy L Hales
Sometime in the next two weeks New York’s Assembly and Senate should both vote on a bill that will make more accessible for renters, other families, schools and businesses. The “Shared Clean Energy Bill” is moving through both houses simultaneously. It is an outgrowth of the commitment Governor Andrew Cuomo made after taking office in 2011. Though New York’s solar capacity has quadrupled, on page 71 of this year’s state the state address he mentions the need for a comprehensive community solar package.
There does not appear to be any real opposition, aside from the ticking of the clock. A.9931 is currently before the before the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee. Its’ senate counterpart, S.7727, is before the finance committee. This session of the legislature ends on June 19.
There are already more than 41,000 homes with solar panels and the growing solar industry employs 5,000 people.
Yet the traditional panels-on-your-roof approach does not work for all New Yorkers.
“While virtually every New Yorker pays for renewable energy programs through surcharges on their utility bills, private solar installers have offered their services to only a fraction of the state’s population,” the Governor wrote.
“A majority of our residents and businesses cannot participate in that growing solar marketplace simply because they do not own rooftops that are suitable for solar. This bill would make solar an option for renters and millions of other New Yorkers for the first time, in turn delivering more solar benefits to our state,” added New York State Assemblymember, Amy Paulin, who is both the Energy Committee Chair and one of the bill’s sponsors.
“New Yorkers clearly want more clean, reliable solar energy powering our homes, schools and businesses. A9931 would connect more New Yorkers with the solar power they want and continue put our state at the forefront of energy development and job growth in our country,“ said Shaun Chapman, President of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA).
“It’s time for a more inclusive approach to New York clean energy. We urge lawmakers to pass A.9931 solar can shine for all,” said Aaron Bartley, Executive Director of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo.
“…more local solar investment, more local solar jobs and healthier, more resilient communities,” said Hannah Masterjohn, New Markets Program Director at Vote Solar.
“I’ve never been prouder to call myself a New Yorker as leader after leader steps forward on behalf of health and economic opportunity for all. The Shared Renewables Bill is moving forward with strong leadership in and outside Albany, but most importantly, it is moving forward on a road that ALL New Yorkers can walk, with access to stable, clean and affordable solar energy to power their homes and places of business, whether owned or leased. That means moving forward, together – with better health and economic opportunity in communities across the state, from Buffalo to Binghamton to the Bronx and everywhere in between,” said Actor Mark Ruffalo.
“New York has charted a pioneering path forward on clean energy. Strong existing programs and new initiatives like the ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ process aim to empower New Yorkers to take climate action into their own hands and repower our state with clean energy. Shared solar, which gives more consumers access to renewable energy, should be part of New York’s clean energy vision,” said David Gahl, Pace Energy and Climate Center’s Director of Strategic Engagement.