New York State has seen a boom in solar power over the past three years…and one local expert says it’s just a start of a conversion to sustainable energy sources.
Chris Carrick is energy program manager at the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board…and also an organizer of Solarize Syracuse. He says New York is one of the national leaders …with almost half of all new generation of electricity in the first quarter of this year coming from solar power.
“Solar energy will be the first energy industry to be subsidy-free in the history of the country. The solar industry is gearing up not only for the reduction of NYSERDA and state subsidies, but also for the federal tax credit. And so the industry is becoming more efficient and more competitive. We’re starting to see more national companies playing in the New York State market and that’s helping drive prices down too. I don’t see that stopping any time soon.”
Statistics from Governor Cuomo’s office show electricity from solar power in Central New York jumped more than 500-percent from 2011 to 2014…and project installations rose 300-percent. Other parts of the state showed similar gains. Carrick is happy to see the sustainable power source catching on.
“New York is taking a leadership role in growing solar. I think we rank 9th in the country in terms of how much solar we have deployed. Given the solar resource we’ve got, which is not as good as Arizona, we’re doing quite well. Really what’s driving it is the marketplace. It’s the drop in price of panels and other components, which has dropped about 50-percent in the last four years.”
Solar power provides just less than one percent of New York's power...but Carrick says that will go up as systems become cheaper.
Region MW Installed Increase Projects Installed Increase
Capital Region 500% 240%
Central New York 519% 299%
Finger Lakes 533% 193%
Long Island 154% 122%
Mid-Hudson 421% 296%
Mohawk Valley 475% 365%
New York City 516% 548%
North Country 573% 153%
Southern Tier 486% 144%
Western New York 216% 171%
Carrick helped organize Solarize Syracuse and last year saw 77 property owners sign contracts for solar systems. That compares to fewer than 25 in 2013, and fewer than 15 in 2012.An expanded five-county “Solarize C-N-Y” will kick off later this week.
“This will be the largest solar campaign that I know of that’s ever been attempted in the country, so we’re very proud of that. We had a great response to Solarize Syracuse, and lots of folks from other parts of the region coming to our workshops and saying, ‘when can we do this.’ So we’re very excited about it. We think we could make a big impact not only on deployment numbers, but also on the price.”
Carrick knows the cost of solar panels and installation is a barrier…but says like cell phones and flat-screen T-V’s, technology advancement will push down prices. The Solarize model can make it easier for people leangin int hat direction, to make an informed decision.
“By purchasing solar with your neighbors it provides you a level of comfort, because for many folks solar is still pretty new. We talked to a lot of folks who have been thinking about going solar for years. By providing them a contractor that we have vetted; we have looked at their technology; we’ve looked at their customer service record; we can vouch for these companies and say, ‘yes, they’ll do a good job.’”
The Solarize C-N-Y kickoff is Thursday Night at Hansen’s Advisory Service in Fayetteville starting at 6:30.