Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York state solar installations grew nearly 800% in five years. It took five years and nearly $1.5 billion in private investment to show how solar power can succeed in a northern state.
Beginning from a mere 9,000 projects installing 83.06 megawatts (MW) of solar installed in December, 2011, the Empire State’s solar capacity has grown almost 800% by December, 2016. Recent years saw the most activity with 242 MW installed in 2015 which grew the solar fleet to 638 MW. In 2016, 65,000 solar projects added another 105.65 to bring the year end total to 743.65 MW installed. Most solar power installations are located in the Mohawk Valley.
Governor Cuomo proclaimed that the state was “a national leader in clean energy”. While that does reflect the state’s laudable accomplishment, projects have only been tricking through the NY PSC approval process. In other state, solar is racing ahead. For example — Texas currently has only 556 MW of utility-scale installed solar capacity. But there’s an estimated 1,211 MW will come on-line with another 1,511 MW coming on-line in 2018.
Under NY-Sun Initiative, the plan is to build 3,000 MW for a self-sustaining, incentive-free solar market to serve New York electricity customers by 2023. The effort has created a backlog of 2,000 solar projects between 50 KW and 2 MW in 2015 waiting to be approved. The PSC recently streamlined the process for solar projects over 50 KW to interconnect to the grid. According to CUNY’s NYSolarMap.com, a little over 79 MW has been approved so far but not yet installed.