Unlike in 2013, in his 2014 State of the State speech Governor Andrew Cuomo did not explicitly mention solar power. However, the 2014 State of the State Report, published in conjunction with the speech, indicates that solar power will remain a policy priority in the coming years.
The report reiterates Governor Cuomo’s goal of “[e]ncouraging New York State to become a national leader in solar energy.” New York’s primary public policy program to promote solar is the NY-SUN program, launched in 2012 and administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). SPR attorney Scott Furman recently negotiated the design and installation of one of the largest NY-SUN projects in New York City – a 1.059 MW project on the roof of the Manhattan Beer Distributors facility in the Bronx. The project is slated for completion in 2014.
The report also states that in 2014, the Cuomo Administration will, under the auspices of NY-SUN, launch a new program called “Community Solar NY,” which will seek to expand access to solar power in communities that are currently underserved.
A flagship initiative for Community Solar NY will be the “K-Solar” program, which will provide financial incentives and technical assistance to K-12 school administrators interested in installing solar power systems on school property, such as rooftops. As the report notes, “[o]f the nearly 5,000 public schools in the state, many are prime candidates for solar energy but have not been able to navigate the bureaucratic channels to finance it through potential energy savings.”
In addition, the report notes that the Cuomo administration will aim to use a successful solar project at a school as a jumping-off point to “solarize” the surrounding neighborhood. For example, to incentivize schools to reach out to the communities in which they are located, “NYSERDA [could provide] a financial reward to the school for every surrounding home that installs solar as well.”
Finally, in a recent filing with the Public Service Commission, NYSERDA requested an additional $864 million for solar energy incentives extending through 2023, which would bring total NY-SUN program funding to approximately $1 billion.