February 1, 2010
In an effort to bolster the solar energy industry in New York State, the New York State Power Authority (NYPA) announced a plan to increase the state's solar electricity generation by 100 megawatts over the next four years, representing a 500% increase on New York's current solar generating capacity. Announced on Wednesday, this initiative is in line with Governor David Patterson's "45 by 15" goal that calls for 45% of the state's electricity to come from renewable resources by 2015.
According to the New York State Power Authority's website, private companies will submit bids to install solar photovoltaic systems at municipal facilities, schools, and universities throughout the state:
As part of the Initiative, NYPA is inviting public and private schools, government buildings and businesses throughout the state to serve as Host Sites for a roof- or ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) array. The solar array will be installed at no upfront cost to the facility, and will provide participating facilities with fixed-price solar energy for 20 years along with protection from future energy price increases.
In addition, the plan will promote photovoltaic installations in "community solar" projects. These projects will place large-scale solar collectors in empty fields and vacant lots to connect rural communities with municipal utilities.
According to The Buffalo News, Richard M. Kessel, the president and Chief Executive Officer of the NYPA, said that the new initiative "will create thousands of jobs" in the state's solar energy industry. Jobs are expected to grow in both manufacturing and installation. Kessel added that the project will be "the largest solar initiative in the history of the State of New York." Globe Metallurgical, a Niagara Falls based company that manufactures metallurgical-grade silicon, already has plans to expand its production of purified silicon for solar cells.
When asked about the cost of the new solar program, Kessel declined to provide an estimate but suggested that the cost of the expansion would exceed tens of millions of state dollars. He also assured that the initiative would not increase the rate that the NYPA charges for electric power.
New York's commitment to increasing its solar generating capacity is the latest in a series of state initiatives that embrace solar technologies. We have previously reported on the developments in Maryland, Massachusetts and California. In January, Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland unveiled his state's energy agenda which called for a vigorous expansion of Maryland's solar industry. In addition, Massachusetts and California began allowing their residents to sell excess power back to the utility companies earlier this year.