Report: Opponents backing attacks on solar energy across the country, report says

Media Contacts
Heather Leibowitz

[New York, NY]- A national network of utility interest groups and fossil-fuel industry-funded think tanks is providing funding, model legislation, and political cover for anti-solar campaigns across the country, and would-be solar power owners could pay the price, said a new report by Environment New York Research & Policy Center.

The Heartland Institute, a think tank with backing from the fossil fuel industry, has spread misleading information about the impacts of solar energy, and helped American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) draft legislation designed to repeal renewable electricity standards, according to the analysis, Blocking the Sun: 12 Utilities and Fossil Fuel Interests That Are Undermining American Solar Power.

And our report shows they’re using the same playbook all across the country.

The state’s solar boom is largely the result of bold, forward-thinking public policies that have begun to build a strong solar industry while putting solar energy within the financial reach of more and more homes, businesses, and communities.

While New York has several strong clean energy policies on the books, state leaders are poised to take support for clean energy up another notch. In July, Governor Cuomo announced that the growth of solar in New York State had increased more than 300 percent from 2011 to 2014—twice the rate of U.S. solar growth overall—reaffirming the value of the Reforming the Energy Vision strategy to make clean, resilient and affordable energy accessible for all New Yorkers.

But opponents of solar energy have been working largely behind the scenes to block key measures that would help solar energy continue its upward trajectory.

“We found that most attacks on solar energy happen behind closed doors in utility agencies, or in dense regulatory filings — away from public view,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “That’s probably because they’re aimed at very popular policies that give regular consumers the chance to go solar.”

Despite this, just last week in New York, Governor Cuomo pledged to bring solar power to 150,000 more homes and businesses by 2020 and renewable energy to every state university campus by the same year.

“By wide margins, New Yorkers support pro-solar policies,” said Leibowitz. “We hope utilities and special interest opponents of solar energy here in New York don’t succeed in using shady tactics as we’ve seen elsewhere to undermine progress. We are pleased that Governor Cuomo is forging a path forward and stand ready to help him follow through.”


Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York (far right), stands with Governor Cuomo, Former President Al Gore, and members of the environmental community after announcement of climate change initiative.