Thursday, 09 February, 2012
How the Policy Works
Building and improving upon proven best practices that are already driving solar growth in neighboring states, smart solar policy for New York would set a target of 5,000 megawatts (MW) of solar development by 2026 – which would provide enough electricity to meet about 3% of the state’s total demand. The policy would use market forces to make solar power a central and growing component of New York’s energy infrastructure by setting annual Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) purchase obligations for power suppliers, like ConEd, New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). The policy will protect New York energy consumers with a clear and responsive mechanism to control rate impacts.
This legislation supports a broad diversity of business models, developers, system sizes and technologies so that industry growth can occur in all market segments. Residential and commercial customers as well as larger solar developers that install solar panels would receive an SREC for every Megawatt-hour of solar power produced. Each retail electric supplier would be required to buy a certain number of SRECs each year, proportional to its share of the marketplace. Those annual SREC obligations are extremely modest in the early years of the program, and then gradually increase over the lifetime of the program to allow the market to scale at minimum cost and maximum benefit to New York ratepayers. This, in turn, would support the development of a strong, competitive New York solar energy market. It is estimated that the total cost of the program to the average residential consumer would be around $.39 per month, or less than the price of a postage stamp.
To ensure the process is transparent and includes adequate government oversight, the Public Service Commission (PSC), LIPA and NYPA would have to report annually to the governor and the legislature on the progress of the program.
With New York investing in more solar power, we would immediately begin creating significant jobs.
- Solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt installed than any other energy resource—7 times that of coal or natural gas.5,000 megawatts of solar power would mean thousands of new jobs. Solar creates 13.7 jobs per $1 million dollars of spending on project development.
- These would be high quality jobs related to project development and installation, making them inherently local and unlikely to be outsourced.
- These jobs cover a broad range of education requirements, salary ranges and fields.
- If successful in building a long-term solar market, the state stands to gain additional jobs associated with the manufacturing of solar system components, from silicon to glass, from racking systems to wiring.
- More than 100,000 Americans work in solar today. National solar employment grew nearly 7% year-over-year – a bright spot of growth in an overall economy that only added 0.7% employment. Stronger state-level solar policy would bring more of that job opportunity to New York.
Benefits for Consumers
New York’s energy consumers would see benefits from stronger solar policy:
- Solar power investment would reduce the need for New York’s conventional power plants to generate power during peak demand hours, some of the priciest and most polluting electricity in New York’s energy mix.
- Solar power development would help relieve New York’s chronic grid strain and resulting blackouts and price spikes by producing power when and where it is needed most throughout the state.
- Consumers would have more alternatives to generate their own power and directly reduce their utility bills.
- New Yorkers would have access to safe and sustainable power.
Keeping Pace with Neighboring States and Modernizing our Infrastructure
New York has lagged far behind neighboring states like New Jersey in solar development - after once being a leader in the field:
- As of Q2 2011, New Jersey had installed over 400 MW of solar generating capacity – more than six times the 64 MW of solar installed in New York.
- Overall, New Jersey has a goal of 5,000 megawatts of new solar capacity by 2026.
Benefits for New York’s Environment & Public Health
By reducing New York’s reliance on fossil fuel based energy generation, a stronger solar policy commitment would help protect our environment and the people who live in it. 5,000 MW of local solar development would:
- Reduce stress on New York's grid during summer "peak hours," lessening the need to run older, dirtier plants that emit hazardous smog-forming pollutants, harming our lungs and putting the most vulnerable- our children, elderly and asthma patients- at risk.
- Reduce harmful emissions of mercury and smog-causing pollution. Over 65 percent of New Yorkers currently live in counties where air pollution endangers lives.
- Reduce climate change causing emissions equivalent to taking 2,697,326 cars off the road.