On January 9, Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2013 State of the State Address and outlined several key policy initiatives to facilitate the increased deployment of solar power in New York. The address announced the governor’s intent to (1) extend the state’s NY-Sun solar program at $150 million annually for the next 10 years, (2) appoint a cabinet-level “energy czar” to coordinate the administration’s energy policy, and (3) create a $1 billion “NY Green Bank” to leverage public monies with private sector funds in order to increase investment in renewable energy projects in New York.
“The economy of tomorrow is the clean tech economy,” the governor observed in his address. “We all know it, it’s a foot race – whatever state, whatever region gets there first wins the prize, and we want it to be New York.”
The 2013 State of the State Report that accompanied the address provides further details. To start, the NY-Sun program, originally announced in Cuomo’s 2012 State of the State Address, is designed to increase the state’s solar generation capacity. To that end, NY-Sun has thus far taken the form of a variety of legislative and administrative policy measures, including tax credits, grants, and permitting reforms. NY-Sun presently is authorized through 2015; Cuomo proposes to extend the program’s present funding levels through 2023.
The governor has recruited Richard Kauffman to join his cabinet as the state’s new “energy czar.” Kauffman, whose formal title will be Chairman for Energy Policy and Finance for New York State, previously worked as senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and is a leading expert on private sector investment in renewable energy.
Cuomo’s proposed NY Green Bank would “serve a coordinating role to enhance the collective strength of all State clean energy programs,” which together spend $1.4 billion annually. According to the report, the Green Bank would seek to move beyond these programs’ present reliance on “one-time subsidies” by using tools like “bonding, loans and various credit enhancements (e.g, loan loss reserves and guarantees)” to “leverag[e] private capital” and “catalyz[e] market activity.” As the report notes, Connecticut passed legislation creating a similar entity, the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, in 2011.
Individuals and small businesses in New York can take advantage of the NY-Sun Initiative in several ways. For example, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) administers the NY-Sun Competitive Photovoltaic Program, which provides grants supporting the development of qualifying photovoltaic projects. In 2013, NYSERDA will accept grant applications in two rounds, with deadlines of March 14th and August 29th. Additionally, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) recently initiated New York’s first feed-in tariff program, the Clean Solar Initiative Feed-In Tariff. Under this program, LIPA will pay a fixed rate to owners of qualifying photovoltaic generation systems for every solar kilowatt-hour generated over a fixed term.