New York hits record solar installs but will fall short of clean energy goals without VDER changes

With New York state leaders negotiating this month whether to include Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed Green New Deal in the new state budget, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables released the 2018 Solar Market Insight (SMI) Report showing strong growth in New York’s solar market with 373 MW of new development last year. While the report shows steady growth to date, it also reveals that without further action from lawmakers, New York will fall well short of its clean energy goals outlined in Governor Cuomo’s state of the state.

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“New data from the U.S. Solar Market Insight Year-in-Review shows New York is installing more solar than ever before,” Sean Gallagher, Vice President of State Affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association said. “However, the pace of installations is still far from the rate needed to achieve Governor Cuomo’s ambitious new 6-Gigawatt solar goal. To increase the pace of solar deployment, the New York Public Service Commission must quickly approve recommended changes to the Value of Distributed Energy Resources tariff, and the Legislature and the Governor should come together around the specifics of renewable energy legislation now pending in Albany.”

New York’s annual installment ranks No. 6 nationally, a 6-spot jump from 2017, but New York’s overall solar market ranks 10th in the nation, showing there is still room for improvement. New York overall jumped up one spot from 2017, generating over $4.7 billion in investments, and sustaining nearly 10,000 jobs at more than 850 companies across the state. That success underscores the potential for the governor’s proposed Green New Deal to continue accelerating the transition to a 100% clean energy economy.

“In order to hit the governor’s target of 6 gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025, the industry must deploy three times as much solar it has installed to date,” said Shaym Mehta, Executive Director of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association. “A stable, predictable market for solar investment is the best way to get there, making this the opportune moment for the New York legislature to codify achievable short, medium and long-term solar energy targets. Doing so would expand solar access for all New Yorkers, and put us on a path to meeting our climate and clean energy goals.”

Governor Cuomo has set a goal of 6 GW of solar installed by 2025. The report shows in 2018 the US installed 10.6 GW of solar, giving New York a roadmap to reach the Governor’s solar goals. States that saw growth created favorable environments to growth by committing to solar with codified incentives and using those to signal market favorability to solar industries. New York is expected to see growth in 2019 and 2020 due to strong community actions by state regulators.

Without legislative action, New York is unlikely to reach its goal of 6 gigawatts (GW) of distributed solar, or enough to power one million solar homes, by 2025. That goal would require significantly more annual solar development. In light of Solar Market Insight Report, the Million Solar Strong New York Coalition is calling on lawmakers to double down on its commitment to climate and clean energy leadership and codify into law Governor Cuomo’s 6GW solar goal in order to drive the regulatory and market changes needed to accelerate solar growth further.


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