Climate

New York’s Bold New Plan To Expand Solar Energy

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported a ramp-up in his state’s solar capacity Friday, an announcement that rounded out a big week for the state’s environmental initiatives.

The governor announced new NY-Sun awards for large solar electric projects that will increase the solar capacity in New York State by 68 percent, or more than 214 megawatts. Cuomo in April had announced a commitment of $1 billion to NY-Sun, the state’s initiative for increasing solar energy. The plan announced Friday includes a $94 million investment by New York State, along with private investments that total $375 million.

“Today we are making another long-term investment in our clean energy economy — with nearly $100 million in funding that will dramatically increase our capacity to generate and utilize solar energy across the state,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York is quickly becoming a national leader in renewable energy by building a competitive solar industry, and today’s award recipients are an example of how that progress continues to grow. As we recognize Climate Week, this is a significant step forward in our goal of creating a better place for New Yorkers to live and work, and I look forward to seeing these projects contribute to a cleaner environment.”

The new solar will be installed at 142 project sites, with 50 of the sites located at businesses, 41 at schools, 36 at government facilities and 15 at nonprofits, colleges and health care facilities. The project sites are also spread across the state, with 32 in New York City, 23 in the Hudson Valley, 13 in the Finger Lakes and the rest scattered throughout New York.

Also late last week, Gov. Cuomo signed into law a bill that extends property tax breaks for New York residents and business-owners who install solar panels. The law also doubles the amount of tax breaks possible from the installation.

And earlier last week, in the lead-up to the U.N.’s climate summit in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that, by 2050, New York City will emit 80 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than it did in 2005. The city will achieve this goal by following a plan announced by the Mayor on Monday, which will focus first on scaling back heating, cooling and power emissions from buildings, a sector that’s responsible for nearly three-quarters of New York City’s total emissions.

“Achieving an 80 by 50 target will require nothing short of a dynamic transformation in the way energy is used in our buildings,” the plan states. “Overall, the City must cut energy use across all building sectors on average by at least 60 percent from 2005 levels and switch to renewable fuel sources to be on target for 80 by 50.”

New York City was also the site of the People’s Climate March on September 21, a protest that both Cuomo and de Blasio took part in.

Cuomo has been outspoken about climate change before — after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the governor issued a call to action for climate preparedness in the state.

“We have been tested before, and we have always risen to the challenge,” the governor wrote in an op-ed. “We will not allow the national paralysis over climate change to stop us from pursuing the necessary path for the future.”