New York passes solar bill that could add 2.2GW by 2023

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New York state legislators yesterday gave their resounding approval to a solar bill that could see 2,200MW of new installations by 2023.

The New York Solar Bill (A.5060b/S.2522) was passed by the state Assembly by 76 to 16 votes and would enact governor Andrew Cuomo's 10-year solar programme proposed earlier this year, building on the success of the NY-Sun Initiative, a public-private partnership designed to drive growth in the state’s solar industry and lower solar costs.

Solar has gained increasing attention from state lawmakers following the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, which exposed New York’s energy infrastructure as grossly outdated and unable to weather the effects of climate change.

Lawmakers must now prepare the final bill for signing by governor Cuomo's desk before the summer recess.

Dave Gahl, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, said: “Lawmakers should not leave town this month before giving final passage to the New York solar bill and sending agreed-to legislation to governor Cuomo for his signature. New York's sun is underemployed, and by passing this bill the legislature can put it to work.”

The Senate version that was passed in April had an additional manufacturing tax credit piece that is not contained in the Assembly version.

A Vote Solar spokeswoman said: “We're urging lawmakers to focus on what they agree on – the 10-year extension of NY Sun – and deliver a single bill to the governor. The primary job and investment opportunity is on the installation side of the solar equation, so we think it's important that they focus on the NY Sun programme extension and the jobs will follow.”

The bill represents New York's second milestone achievement for solar policy this month. The New York Public Service Commission approved a decision to triple the state’s net metering cap from 1% to 3% of 2005 system peak load for each of the state's five utilities. This could add a further 462MW of distributed generation (DG) in New York.

Jason Keyes, lead attorney for the Interstate Renewable Energy Council said: “With solar projections expected to continue to rise sharply in the near future, this decision comes at a particularly crucial time. As NEM capacity in three of the five utilities is over 75% subscribed, New York's current 1% cap would have presented a major hurdle to future development in the state.”

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