Million Solar Strong eyes New York

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One million: a number which through usage and hyperbole has lost the presence of its size. A number so large that the word has become synonymous with large itself.

There are, according to most recent census data, 7,266,187 households in the state of New York. The Million Solar Strong Coalition, as well as a growing number of New York State Assembly members, are calling upon the state to power one million (14%) of these households with solar power by 2023. And the movement is gaining traction.

“I am proud to stand with The Million Solar Strong Campaign in building a resilient green economy that will create more clean energy in New York,” said Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, of the 74th district. “As we move towards more solar power in our state, it is important that we ensure cleaner energy is a possibility for all New Yorkers.

“Social justice and environmental justice are undeniably linked. The campaign’s work to increase access to renewable energy for low-income residents is invaluable because we can’t truly protect the environment unless we tackle social justice issues too.”

The coalition argues that achieving this goal will generate jobs, reduce and stabilize utility bills, stimulate local investment, cut harmful air pollution, accelerate an equitable transition to our clean energy future, and counter the Trump Administration’s attacks on the environment, at least in New York.

The framework for plausibility is outlined in the coalition’s two road maps, which outline the policy and regulatory steps that will have to be taken to achieve the goal, as well as the additional goal of powering 100,000 low-income houses with solar. The coalition highlights fair customer compensation, the driving of accelerated and diverse solar growth, ensuring the modern grid and solar serve each other and expanding access for low-income, environmental justice and other underserved communities as some of the necessary framework for success.

“Recognizing the need to improve our quality of life and protect our environment, The Million Solar Strong Campaign’s has a goal of powering 1 million homes in New York through solar,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, of the 76th district. “This can only be properly achieved through policies that increase accessibility, reduce costs for municipalities and consumers, and increase investment on clean energy. I am committed to raising awareness, pressing forward these goals to ensure New York becomes the leader of the energy revolution and to protect the future of our children.”

If anything, the coalition knows how to target a state. Under Gov. Cuomo (D), solar has flourished in New York. It was Cuomo who set the state’s new renewable standard of 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 1,500 MW of energy storage by 2025. The state has increased its total installed capacity 1,000 fold since 2011 and currently has over 200,000 homes powered by solar. In October it was announced that the state would be investing another $40 million into solar + energy storage projects.

In other states (excepting California), powering one million homes with solar energy would be nothing more than a pipe dream. In New York, it could be a reality on the horizon.