New York: The Big Solar Apple?

When people think about New York City, they don’t think of the cityas a sunny place, visitors know it for canyon-like streets and alleyswalled in by tall apartments, condos and turn-of-the-centuryskyscrapers.

However, New York City and Westchester County, N.Y., more than doubled the amount of photovoltaic installations in the region in 2010.

According to Con Edison, a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc.(NYSE: ED), the utility for the region, its customers installed 4.5megawatts of photovoltaic generation in 2010. That’s more than doublethe 1.9 megawatts of solar installed in 2009.

By the end of 2009, the company had 8.5 megawatts of solar itssystem. The number of actual installations completed in 2010 jumped to203 from 134 the previous year.

Con Edison spokesperson Allen Drury said the company does not haveestimates for how much more solar will be added in 2011 or beyond.

“We think that with the momentum that has been generated the nextseveral years could be very productive,” he said. “The New York PowerAuthority and the city of New York both have solar initiatives that will bring projects to the city.

To help more residents add solar, the company is working with CityUniversity of New York to make the application process for net meteringeven easier and quicker, said Drury.

“We are a key player in the 100 Days of Solar initiative, which aimsto reduce the approval time for solar applications to 100 day,” he said.

The company and the university plan to implement a solar resource map in 2011, which will help customers learn more about their solar resources.

The steps that Con Edison already took to promote solar have paid off.

“We reached out to our customers and explained the economic andenvironmental benefits of using sun power in their homes andbusinesses,” said Con Edison Vice President of Engineering and PlanningRobert Schimmenti. The information includes how Con Edison net metersand the application process. He said that the company also shortened the approval process for residential systems, typically under 25 kilowatts, and created a customer web site for customers that want to installsolar.

“We have also provided training for solar installers, offering themguidance on the application process, worked with the NYC Department ofBuildings to streamline the application approval process, and supportedthe CUNY mapping project,” said Drury. “We also provided input into theselection of the Solar Empowerment Zones.”

The zones are areas that get the best sunlight in the region,targeted areas for incentives and other forms of assistance to help more New Yorkers go solar.



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