Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Solar Policy Innovation in New York

The New York solar industry could soon get a big boost if the state legislature passes the Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act (they must be very excited about it, as the bill is typed in ALL CAPS). The video above explains the basic financing and Solar Renewable Energy Credit mechanism quite clearly.

The bill's goal is 5 GW of solar capacity by 2025, with participation from residential, commercial, and utility producers. The incentives and requirements would ramp up and be adjusted over the years to match a growing market and falling costs. Advocates predict that the bill will add some 22,000 new jobs and $20 billion of economic activity to the state, with the primary benefits being cleaner power, long-term reduction of peak power costs, grid reliability, and local generation to supplant the importation of fossil fuels.

This bill is a step in the right direction, but it's hard not to scratch one's head at the lack of ambition here. The target of 2.5 percent by 2025 looks paltry when compared to peer nations like Germany, which installed 7 GW in 2010 alone due to its feed-in tariff system, and that was a slow year! Energy and environment writer David Roberts notes that "German electrical ratepayers fund the program through a small fee that amounts to about 15 percent of their electrical bills," whereas one of the selling points of the New York bill is that it will add only $0.39
to the average residential electric bill. You get what you pay for.

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