With 20 MWs (and counting), ‘Solarize’ initiative shines

Shining example: With the NY-Sun Solarize Initiative completing its latest funding round, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trumpeting the Empire State's leadership on solar power.

A New York State program created to fund statewide solar-power initiatives is pumping out dollars and helping to pump up the Empire State’s supply of renewable megawatts.

An update issued Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office shows the NY-Sun Solarize Initiative, launched in 2014 and administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, has supported 81 different statewide campaigns through its first three rounds of funding – backing 2,439 different projects to the tune of roughly $830,000 in financing and technical support.

That includes five campaigns in the Long Island region and 115 total Island-based projects, according to the governor’s office, with those efforts now producing a total of 1.03 megawatts.

That output places Long Island sixth among the nine state regions hosting campaigns or individual programs that have been supported by the NY-Sun Solarize Initiative. The Mid-Hudson Valley – with 25 campaigns (963 total projects) producing 7.65 MW – and Central New York (eight campaigns, 277 total projects, 3.4 MW) lead the pack, though those regional totals include “community solar subscriptions,” the governor’s office said.

Community subscriptions – wherein entire communities are eligible to sign up for electricity partially generated by the sun – were included for the first time in NY-Sun Solarize’s latest funding round.

Andrew Cuomo: Sunny disposition.

All told, the state initiative has helped generate 19.47 megawatts of solar-generated electricity – the equivalent of powering 3,241 homes for an entire year, according to Cuomo’s office.

On Wednesday, the governor praised the program – a vital component of his Clean Energy Standard effort, which requires that half of New York’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030 – for “bringing renewable energy to residents and businesses at an affordable price while providing resiliency to the electric grid.”

“New York leads the nation in advancing aggressive clean-energy policies,” Cuomo added. “And by supporting local projects across the state, our communities are realizing the benefits.”

The update also credited the NY-Sun Solarize program – which unites potential customers, including low- to moderate-income customers, with government officials, utilities, solar-energy businesses and other community stakeholders – with saving participants more than $3.6 million in equipment and other upfront purchase costs.

That’s an average savings of more than $1,400 per installation, according to the governor’s office – and a golden opportunity for “communities throughout New York State (to) invest in their future by incorporating solar into their everyday lives,” noted NYS Energy and Finance Chairman Richard Kauffman.

“The Solarize campaigns are bringing economic growth and building on the state’s momentum,” Kauffman said in a statement, adding the program has played a major role in increasing New York’s solar energy output by 1,000 percent since 2011.