New York City Among Regions Solar Leaders

Media Contacts
Heather Leibowitz

New York, NY—New York City ranks 9th for total solar panels in the nation, and 1st in the Mid-Atlantic and New England Regions according to Environment New York Research and Policy Center’s new analysis, Shining Cities: Harnessing the Benefits of Solar Energy in America. The solar stature of the city is owed largely to the clear commitment of the city’s leaders, as well as Governor-Cuomo’s successful NY-SUN Initiative, advocates said today. 

“New York City is a star when it comes to solar power,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “We hope state leaders and other New York cities will follow this shining example.”

Buffalo also made an admirable showing and ranks 38th for total solar panels in the nation, and 6th in the Mid-Atlantic and New England Regions.

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown stated, “Buffalo is proud to continue its long history as the “City of Light” and an energy innovation leader.  According to the City of Buffalo Energy Master Plan, solar generation projects and capacity within the City of Buffalo doubled between 2011 and 2012. The Buffalo Public School board recently awarded a contract to install solar on 20 additional school facilities and provide solar installation training.  The draft City of Buffalo Green Code specifically addresses both residential and commercial solar installations, and Solar City is now in the process of building one of the world’s largest solar panel manufacturing facilities in Buffalo, resulting in the creation of 3,000 new jobs.   I’m proud of the steps we’ve made towards a clean energy future that protects the environment and creates new, green jobs.”

Solar power is on the rise across the country, with another panel or project installed every three minutes last year. Plummeting costs, increasing public concern over global warming and energy independence, and technological innovation have all played a role in spurring the growth of the pollution-free energy source.

Cities are implementing many different policies as tools to expand solar energy development. New York City has partnered with its local investor-owned utility to create designated “Solar Empowerment Zones” where solar can be most beneficial. And cities nationwide are encouraging local lending for solar projects and facilitating community-owned solar.

According to researchers who examined solar power installations in 70 American cities in nearly every state, New York State had enough solar energy online at the end of last year to power just over 6,300 homes.

Furthermore, the report was released this morning in Huntington at an event honoring Long Island’s progress on solar energy and the Solarize Huntington initiative. Among those in attendance were Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington), Assemblymember Lupinacci, and members of the solar power advocate community.

‪“Huntington officials were among the first to step up and commit to working on a Department of Energy program aimed at reducing the costs of installing solar in New York,” said Laurie Reilly, Director of Communications for Sustainable CUNY of the City University of New York. “Jurisdictions that represent half the population of New York are working with Sustainable CUNY’s NY State Solar Ombudsmen to create solutions to solar barriers and a tool kit of resources for other municipal leaders like themselves who are interested in bringing solar, and the accompanying solar jobs, to their town.”

Solar power is on the rise across the country, with another panel or project installed every three minutes last year. Plummeting costs, increasing public concern over global warming and energy independence, and technological innovation have all played a role in spurring the growth of the pollution-free energy source.

“Long Island and New York are shining examples of leadership in clean energy and solar panel technology,” said Congressman Israel. “I am proud to call Huntington home and applaud Environment New York and our local leaders for bringing our community to the forefront of the solar power movement.  Together, we can ensure that solar energy plays an integral role in creating a stronger economy and a more secure energy independence.”

Joseph Milillo, of Long Island Power Solutions Inc., said that the growth of solar power on Long Island is a boon for the market and consumers alike. “The solar industry is better than ever on Long Island,” said Milillo. “Over a thousand jobs have been created so far and customers are enjoying real savings on their electric bills.”

“There is no doubt alternative energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal bring a positive impact to our communities,” said Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci. “I look forward to working with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to increase the development of renewable energy usage in New York State. We can save taxpayer dollars by providing free and clean energy for Long Island, and become leaders in the growing market for solar energy.”

“EmPower Solar is a home grown New York state solar success story, growing to 65 skilled employees responsible for over 1,000 high performance installations since 2003,” said David Schieren, CEO at EmPower Solar. “New York State’s pro solar policies, including tax credits, property tax abatement, and financing programs, have propelled this growth for EmPower and the industry at large. However, solar still represents less than 1 % of the power mix. Together we can and will make solar the dominant source of power generation for our region.”

While solar power is growing in New York and throughout the nation, utility companies are campaigning intensely to increase fees for rooftop solar installations, which they see as a direct threat to their business model.

“With prices going down and concern about global warming going up, solar power is growing rapidly in our state,” said Leibowitz. “We need federal, state, and even more city leaders to embrace the policies that allow solar to shine.”

The United States Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative created the Rooftop Solar Challenge, which awards grants to teams with the objective to reduce the soft cost of solar, streamline the process to increase time and expenses when going solar, and collaborate between communities, regulatory entities, private industry, local utilities, and other stakeholders.  As part of the Rooftop Solar Challenge II, CUNY was awarded $1.4 million to establish NYSolar Smart to build on momentum set during the competitions first round, to further reduce soft-cost of solar power to ensure more American families and businesses have access to this important clean energy resource. Solarize Huntington is also funded by NYSolar Smart Program.


(Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York, with Congressman Steve Israel and Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci)