Immediate action is needed to reverse the dramatic slowdown in the New York solar market since the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) implemented changes to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's (NYSERDA) PV program, according to the New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA).
Responding to information supplied by NYSERDA after a formal industry request, NYSEIA says that solar's previously robust 57% annual growth rate in the state has been severely reduced by the program changes.
NYSERDA reported that average PV applications for January and February were $1.5 million per month – a drastic reduction from the 2009 average of over $5 million per month. Total PV program applications in the first two months this year were down 70% from the same period in 2009.
In an interim order to keep the PV program alive while debating its overall realignment of the state's renewable portfolio standard, the PSC ordered that the PV program be reduced to $24 million on Jan. 10, NYSEIA explains. Rebates were lowered to $1.75 per watt, installation sizes were limited to a maximum of 5 kW and the total program was capped at $2 million per month.
NYSEIA says that one promising PSC initiative that could help make up a part of the program differential is the PSC's $30 million ‘geographic equity’ funding for downstate consumers.
In addition, the association has urged NYSERDA and the PSC to immediately increase the current 5 kW program cap to 10 kW and to increase the rebate by $0.25 to $2 per watt. NYSEIA also called on the New York State Legislature to pass a Solar Jobs Act that would put the state on a clear trajectory toward 5,000 MW of PV by 2025.