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New Coalition Calls For Investment In Solar In NY

By Ryan Delaney

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-995327.mp3

Albany, NY – Renewable energy experts say New York State is falling behind others in the region in new solar power projects. That's why a new coalition of environmentalists and business advocates are calling for a boost in investment.

There are a handful of solar projects underway on Long Island, but an industry group says Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut are way ahead of New York when is comes to solar power.

That's why the New York Solar Jobs Coalition today called for an investment from the state for 5,000 megawatts - or 3 percent of its power supply - to be from solar by 2026. The National Resources Defense Council says that would equate to 2.7 million cars off the road and improve air quality.

The group also says a big investment in the solar industry will help keep New York competitive.

"Our projects are local. They're creating local energy which provides local reliability benefits," says Virinder Singh of EnXco. "But we can do so much more to increase reliability for the grid, have a diverse portfolio of rate payers and protect the environment. If we want to remain competitive in New York, particularly in energy infrastructure, we need to invest, and solar is a great way of doing that."

Business groups are excited about the jobs that could be created by such an investment. They say an increase in solar will bring $20 billion to the state. The coalition wants labor protection and wage laws to be used to make sure jobs are given to New Yorkers. The coalition says 14 jobs would be created in the field for every million dollars invested.

"You want to be able to put together an industry that prides itself in skilled labor. Here in New York, we want to be able to do this work in a way that is cost efficient and that we attract the people with the highest skill," argues the AFL-CIO's Denis Hughes.

The Coalition is made up of solar industry groups, environmental groups, and business and trade groups.

The coalition is not calling for new bills to be proposed in the upcoming legislative sessions - but rather for action on ones that are still floating around the capitol.

Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote in a paper on New York's energy future late last year that he supports an increase of solar power in the state.