New York High-Risers Bill Accesses Solar

Many New Yorkers live in high-rises, some of which won’t or can’t go solar for one reason or another. So how about building some offsite shared renewable facilities they can buy into, and profit from, to lighten the grid’s load and potentially reduce “carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter”?

That’s the green plan, according to New York State Assembly Bill A09931, sponsored by Democrat Amy Paulin. Also known as the Shared Clean Energy Bill, A09931 passed the Assembly’s energy committee last week and is now parked at Ways and Means, whose chair, Herman Farrell Jr., has a legislative history concerned with consumer protection and neighborhood preservation.

Which is a positive sign, even though New York’s legislative session ends June 19.

“The clock is certainly ticking on getting the bill across the finish line in time, but it’s really picked up momentum,” VoteSolar’s Hannah Masterjohn told SolarEnergy. “Having the Senate introduce a same-as bill, S7727, was a significant milestone.”

Both bills amend New York’s Executive Law, Public Service Law and Public Authorities Law to “allow for the interconnection and operation of shared solar and wind facilities,” which would only be authorized to sell to subscribers and not “third parties, electric corporations, cooperatives or bulk system operators.” The proposal has broad support from renewable champions like the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as outspoken progressives like actor Mark Ruffalo. So far, opponents seem hard to find.

“We’re not aware of any formal opposition to the bill,” Masterjohn told me. “The idea of expanding access to solar energy is popular and widely supported. The majority of New Yorkers are not able to put solar on their own property, so this bill would give millions of renters, homeowners, schools, businesses the opportunity to go solar for the first time, by participating in a shared solar project in their community.”

It’s a no-brainer, at least on the surface. But that doesn’t mean everyone can relax.

“In the absence of real opposition to the bill, the biggest challenge is simply the fact that we’re now in the busy final weeks of the legislative session,” added Masterjohn. “There’s good momentum, but a strong showing of public and stakeholder support can go a long way in cutting through the end-of-session noise and making shared solar a priority for New York lawmakers.”

This article appeared at Solar Energy