Gov. Hochul announces expanded solar energy goals for New York

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ALBANY, NY (WETM) – Gov. Kathy Hochul is looking to more than triple New York’s solar energy capacity within the next decade.

“It needs to simultaneously be ambitious but also achievable to be an appropriate goal, and I think 10 gigawatts is absolutely feasible,” said Shyam Mehta, Executive Director of New York Solar Energy Industries Association.

On the first day of Climate Week 2021, Gov. Hochul Wednesday announced a call for the expansion NY-Sun program to achieve an expanded goal of at least 10 gigawatts of distributed solar installed by 2030.

“New York State must be more aggressive in setting the bar higher in recognition of the reality of climate change and the closing window of time to stop the worst impacts nationally and globally,” Gov. Hochul said. 

Increasing solar energy capacity statewide will rapidly accelerate progress to exceed New York’s nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal for 70% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 on the path to a zero-emission grid.

New York is currently at a capacity of three gigawatts and distributed solar power makes up over 90% of all solar energy in the state. Distributed solar is smaller-scale solar energy such as ones mounted on roofs, not including large solar farms.

Some Republican lawmakers are worried about the cost to the average taxpayer and want a full cost-benefit analysis.

“This will cost billions of dollars to comply annually to meet these requirements and these goals,” said Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, NY (R-132).

But, solar energy advocates think the cost of solar energy does not outweigh the cost of climate change in the long run.

“We shouldn’t be looking at this in terms of it being a cost, it’s an investment,” said Mehta. “We’re seeing wildfires out in the west we’re seeing hurricanes hit the east… it’s [climate change] not a problem of the future anymore, it’s here…We’re dealing with it now.”

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