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NY Bundles Solar Programs Under NY-Sun Initiative

New York has announced it will bundle its multiple solar programs into the unified statewide NY-Sun Incentive Program. The billion-dollar initiative aims to add more than 3,000 megawatts of installed solar capacity by 2023.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says combining the programs will bolster the state's solar economy. NY-Sun will administer procedures now overseen by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority , Long Island Power Authority , PSEG Long Island, and New York Power Authority.

Dayle Zatlin is assistant communications director at NYSERDA.   "This transition is going to be very significant in providing expanded solar across the state, and also in helping to transform the solar market into a self-sustaining industry."

As solar capacity is reached in a given sector of the state, incentives will be reduced.   Zaitlin explains  "the idea is there are going to be three regions of the state, and certain incentives are going to be available in each of those regions. Con Edison territory, upstate and Long Island. As this program proceeds we're going to let the market take over, and move at its own pace. Which means that incentives will remain at certain levels and then will be decreasing as market interest grows."

Each region is assigned separate megawatt blocks and incentive levels. It is estimated that the total additional megawatts generated through the program will be enough to power about 400,000 homes.

Governor Cuomo said in a statement the approach will “help the industry plan for the future, spur new development and aid in New York’s transition to a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient energy grid.”  The Cuomo Administration says customers can access financing for solar projects via its Green Jobs-Green New York program.  A call to the governor's office was not immediately returned.

Thom Besch with Veteran Solar Systems of Watervliet believes solar will eventually trump energy generated by hydro, natural gas or nuclear power plants.   "New York's going to have increasing reliance on locally produced or distributed energy, such as solar, and it will not only make a more robust energy infrastructure, it will save homeowners and company owners money."

Zatlin says the enhanced NY-Sun program works by providing "funding certainty" for solar installers.   "They are going to know that there is going to be solar funding through 2023 and they are going to know exactly how much in incentives will be available to them."

The merger of the NYSERDA, LIPA, PSEG and NYPA programs is scheduled to be completed by Thursday. Officials say it will contribute to making the state's electric grid more resilient and reliant.  According to the Washington ,D.C.-based Solar Energy Industries Association, there are more than 415 solar companies and 5,000 employees at work throughout what is referred to as the "solar value chain" in New York. During 2013, $343 million was invested in New York to install solar for home, business and utility use.

In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick has announced another major clean energy milestone, surpassing 15,000 solar installations in the Commonwealth. There are now 15,762 systems installed across Massachusetts, a twenty-fold increase from 2008. Patrick proclaimed "Clean energy investments are smart for the environment and the economy, as proven by our 24 percent industry job growth in the last two years.”  The Patrick Administration’s aggressive clean energy initiatives have made Massachusetts a leader in energy efficiency, renewable energy and emissions reductions.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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