Win, Win, Win: Jobs, Solar, $avings

As we note in our report Freeing the Grid, states are taking the lead when it comes to clean energy policy. There are a number of policy tools states can use to make it easier for citizens to use clean energy: from rolling consumers electric meters back with net metering to requiring the purchase of clean energy through renewable portfolio standards.

New York is among the leaders but not really at the head of the pack, but that might be about to change. In his State of the State speech, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined his support for solar power in New York State:

New York is fortunate to have abundant water, wind, biomass, and solar resources. Over the decades, we have aggressively developed our hydroelectric resources and are making great progress in tapping our land-based wind resources. Now it is time to focus more attention on exploiting our solar potential.…

By 2013, we estimate that NY-Sun will quadruple the 2011 capacity. We will continue to establish New York’s technology leadership in this important emerging market while balancing investments in other renewable resources and protecting the taxpayer. This approach will create jobs, expand solar power, and protect ratepayers — a win, win, win.

In reaction to the speech, Carol Murphy, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACENY) said, “Clean energy and energy efficiency both present significant environmental and economic opportunities that will benefit all New Yorkers. We commend the Governor for his ongoing commitment to the state’s clean energy goals and look forward to working with him and members of the Legislature to see those goals met and expanded in the near future.”

Given high electricity prices, solar resources and its population density, the solar industry is focused on the northeast for its substantial market potential. In particular, New York is relatively untapped as compared to the large quantity of solar installed in New Jersey.

The Solar Alliance, along with ACENY and other groups, has been working with the Governor to make New York a bigger solar state. Now, in order to “present a unified solar industry voice in all advocacy efforts at the state level,” the Solar Energy Industries Associations (SEIA) and the Solar Alliance officially merged on January 3rd. Joining operations, SEIA now will operate in Washington D.C. and at the state level to forward their “goal of installing 10 gigawatts of solar annually by 2015.” New York will remain a key state.

While SEIA will still press ahead with the goal of federal support, state level efforts will be important to the organization in 2012. Governor Cuomo seems eager to do his part in aiding SEIA in the northeast.