The Empire State may not currently have the reputation as one of the top locations in the United States for solar power, but in fact it has one of the most thriving photovoltaics industries in the country. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), New York has some of highest levels of solar energy investment, installed PV capacity and solar power businesses in the nation. And, recent developments in New York serve as examples of how residents and companies across the state have been turning to photovoltaic power to cut costs and meet their electricity needs.
Central New York Homeowners Increasingly Going Solar This past summer, 12 homeowners in Madison County elected to install solar panels on their rooftops, with a combined capacity of more than 150 kilowatts. While this may not seem like much, The Post-Standard reported that this is more capacity than was installed in the county over the past eight years.
The sudden jump in solar installations in Madison County stems from the Solarize Madison program, in which the county offered an additional $2,000 to the first 15 residents who signed up to install PV panels on their home. The program, inspired by an initiative first done in Portland, Oregon, also provided assistance to help homeowners deal with any logistical or other financial issues that can arise during the installation process. According to The Post-Standard, Solarize Madison proved so popular with area residents that county officials have indicated that they want to bring the program back next summer.
Morrisville State College automotive professor Steve Law was one of 24 people to install solar panels thanks to the Solarize Madison program. Law told the news source that while he had long wanted to install solar panels, the related costs were just too high. Thanks to the grant and other available state and federal financial programs, he expects the power system to pay for itself within eight years. Law's property now includes 28 PV panels that generate up to 53 percent of his annual electricity needs.
Madison County is the not the only county in central New York where solar energy is becoming more popular, as the Utica Observer-Dispatch recently reported that PV power systems are being installed in greater numbers in Herkimer and Oneida counties. The news source cited statistics from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which showed 11 projects have either been installed or are pending in Herkimer County and 15 photovoltaic systems were installed in Oneida County.
Kenneth Stewart, the proprietor of Legacy Fiberoptics in Clinton, told the Observer-Dispatch that he elected to install solar panels because it was one of the most cost effective renewable energy options, and because available state and federal incentives helped to reduce the initial costs of a PV power system by about 60 percent.
NY High School Saves Big with Solar Officials in Somers decided to apply for a $275,000 grant in 2009 that would allow them to install solar panels on the roof of Somers High School. In 2011, the power system was installed, and ever since it has demonstrated its value to the town both from a financial and an eco-friendly standpoint, the Somers Daily Voice reported.
According to the news source, the school has its annual electricity bills reduced four percent. This is the energy equivalent of about 5,000 gallons of gasoline, meaning that the project helped to ensure that 45 tons of carbon monoxide were not released into the atmosphere.
The panels are "a step toward sustainability, better management of natural resources and, above all, a solid financial step toward the freezing of what has been an increasingly large budget item in the school budget," Jerry Robock, the town's energy manager, said to the Daily Voice. He also said that "this is one of the few financial components of the school tax that we can incrementally and permanently address in order to reduce our real estate taxes."