Two “New York Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act of 2011” billsare working their way through New York’s General Assembly. Most recently the Assembly version of the bill, 5713, passed out of the Assembly’sEnergy Committee and could be headed for a full vote by the end ofApril.
The bills are focused on creating 22,000 solar jobs in the state and increasing the amount of solar in the state to 5,000megawatts. What’s more, the bills have bipartisan support. The SenateBill, 4178, was introduced by Republican George Maziarz, while theAssembly Bill was introduced by Democrat Steven Englebright.
Such legislation has the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), said NewYork Solar Industries Association (NYSEIA) President Ron Kamen.
“There’s been bipartisan support for solar for a long time,” Kamensaid. Given that the state’s General Assembly is also playing nice thisyear (N.Y.’s legislative bodies have been at odds in recent years), such legislation could grab a foothold.
“It’s nice to have a functioning legislature working together. Thisyear they got the budget out on time, so we’re very excited and hopefulthat this will happen,” he said.
The Senate has some concerns about the bill, however. NYSEIA andothers are working with the Senate to make changes, according to Kamen.
“Right now, we’re working to keep the collaborative process movingalong. The devil is in the details, and we need to make sure the details are workable,” he said.
Passing a solar jobs bill is the first priority for numerous environmental groups in the state, as well as for NYSEIA.
“A lot of coalition efforts are happening,” Kamen said.
Environmental organizations are doing a lot of canvassing in supportof the legislation, having meeting with legislators and more.
“There’s a good amount of activity happening,” he said.
In addition to the NYSEIA making it its first piece of legislationfor 2011, other environmental advocacy groups, including the New YorkLeague of Conservation Voters and Environmental Advocates of New Yorkhave made passage of such legislation a priority.
The bills only apply to the construction and installation jobs that the legislation would create. It’s not counting solar manufacturing jobs that could be created, according to Kamen.
“Clearly that is one the ancillary benefits we expect,” he said.“Some of these manufacturers will want to locate close to where they’reselling, and this bill would help make it happen.”