By Susan Marriott

energy_solar_panel.jpgIn an earlier post, we discussed the opportunity for supply chain manufacturers as a result of the NY-Sun program.  New York’s solar energy industry received an additional boost with the recent passage of the New York Solar Bill by the state Assembly on June 20, 2013.  The bill would extend the NY-Sun program for an additional ten years, through 2023, which if signed into law would make good on Governor Cuomo’s commitment to extend the program in his State of the State address earlier this year.  The result would be an additional 2,200 MW of solar energy capacity, enough to power 400,000 New York homes.  Before the bill can be signed into law, it must be reconciled with the version previously passed by the Senate, which contained an additional manufacturing tax credit that was not in the Assembly version.

Hurricane Sandy highlighted the need to invest in solar energy development, because it exposed New York’s energy infrastructure as “grossly outdated and unable to weather the effects of climate change.”  In fact, the Moreland Commission on Utility Storm Preparation and Response just released its final report, which acknowledged “the vulnerability of utility infrastructure to extreme weather events and noted that hardening was necessary in light of recent experiences.”  Although utility-scale renewable energy is reliant on the grid, renewable energy infrastructure has weathered storms relatively well.  A report on damage to renewable energy infrastructure in New York and New Jersey revealed mostly minor damage to renewable systems, which are built to adapt to extreme conditions since the energy generation equipment is exposed to the elements.  Thus, the increased investment in solar through the extension of the NY-Sun program should encourage not only long-term development of more durable and inexpensive solar panels, but also grid decentralization and stability to better withstand future storms and ensure a reliable source of energy when it is most needed.