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February 26, 2010

Bill would encourage solar, wind power

PLATTSBURGH — A measure to promote expanded use of solar- and wind-powered electricity-generation systems has been approved by both legislative chambers in Albany.

Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said the bill, which she co-sponsored, changes the current net-metering law to remove restrictions that prevented many non-residential customers from taking part.

Net metering allows those producing and using renewable energy to send excess electricity to their power company for a credit.

“This legislation will make the investment and deployment of clean-energy systems much more affordable,” Little said. “New York state has ambitious energy-efficiency and -independence goals, and amending the net-metering law is an important step in helping us achieve these goals over the next decade.”

The bill will be forwarded to Gov. David Paterson’s office for final approval.

The law was amended in 2008 to allow non-residential customers to take part. But the amendment contained peak-load limitations that prevented the larger systems needed by many businesses, schools, municipalities and nonprofit organizations from being eligible.

Systems of up to 2,000 kilowatts are now allowed.

The New York Solar Energy Industries Association issued a statement in support of the legislative action.

“NYSEIA praises the Assembly, Senate and Governor’s Office for coming together to pass the net-metering amendment that takes the law back to its original intent of allowing any consumer in New York to net meter up to two megawatts,” Association Executive Director Gail Markels said.

The change is expected to spur greater investment in solar electrical systems and create more jobs in green technology fields, such as solar and wind power.

The association’s president, Ron Kamen, senior vice president of Earth Kind Solar in Kingston, said, “This bill allows customers willing to invest in on-site systems as a hedge against future energy prices an opportunity to do so, while contributing to statewide environmental protection, energy security and economic development goal(s).”

He said the amendment is another step toward establishing New York as a solar-power leader.

“We look forward to working with legislators as we present a state solar plan that will move us toward meeting our goals of 2,000 megawatts by 2020 and 5,000 megawatts by 2025.”



E-mail Dan Heath at:

dheath@pressrepublican.com

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