In 2012 when Super Strom Sandy devastated the East Coast including New York, the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that something needed to be done about climate change. Unlike many politicians who talk the talk, the governor is actually doing something. He announced Thursday that he wants to invest another billion dollars in his successful solar program—the NY- Sun Initiative.
In 2012, the Democratic governor started the NY- Sun Initiative solar program and already it has 300 MW (megawatts) of solar energy installed or under development. In a little over a year he doubled all the solar installed in New York during the entire previous decade.
Now he wants to install 3,000 MW of additional solar across New York--That’s enough solar to power 465,000 homes, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2.3 million tons annually — the equivalent of taking almost 435,000 cars off the road, and create more than 13,000 new solar jobs.
Perhaps it’s time for 60 Minutes to issue another on-air apology this time for their bad reporting on the “demise of Clean Tech.”
But like they say in the infomercials—that is not all. Governor Cuomo also announced a new program entitled K-Solar, which will incentivize the deployment of solar energy by using the state’s 5,000 schools as “demonstration hubs” to increase the number of solar energy projects in their surrounding communities.
Cuomo’s impressive commitment to clean energy is paying off in the state’s rapidly growing solar industry. The Natural Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC) reports that not only is the NY-Sun Initiative expanding the marketplace, it has served to “to drive down the cost of installed solar power by establishing new, cost-effective and efficient practices and technologies.”
New York currently ranks 12th in the country for installed solar capacity according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). There are more than 411 solar companies working in New York, employing more than 3,300 people. In terms of jobs in the clean energy industry, New York third in the U.S., behind only California and Nevada.
In late 2013, the state flipped the switch on the 32-MW Long Island Solar Farm, the largest in the eastern United States. That was part of the NY-Sun initiative. When New York completes this new billion dollar expansion, New York will certainly be one of the leaders in solar in the nation.
In the last quarter, the U.S. installed enough solar to overtake Germany. What is needed is for the rest of the country to follow New York and California’s lead and replace polluting coal plants with solar. As New York found out, it is a job creator. If Congress is too busy counting the money they rake in from the coal and oil industry to act, Governors need to take charge.