New York State solar initiative would target public schools

Many of the 5,000 public schools in New York State could be designated as demonstration hubs to promote and expand the use of solar energy.

In his 2014 State of the State message, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a new program called K-Solar, which would help schools in the state acquire and install photovoltaic solar panels.

The initiative would expand on the state’s NY-SUN program, which aims to make New York a national leader in the use of solar power.

K-Solar would focus on making it easier for schools to incorporate the alternative energy source into their campus infrastructure.

“Of the nearly 5,000 public schools in the state, many are prime candidates for solar energy but have not been able to navigate the bureaucratic channels to finance it through potential energy savings,” Cuomo said in his message.

K-Solar would provide incentives, financing, and technical assistance to school administrators interested in reducing energy costs and creating more healthful environments for students through on-site solar installations, the governor says.

In addition, the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) would seek to use schools and other institutions as demonstration hubs for developing community-based aggregation models that would bring solar power to entire neighborhoods with increased purchasing power and lower installation costs.

“For example,” the governor says, “NYPA could facilitate a solar project at a school, with NYSERDA providing a financial reward to the school for every surrounding home that installs solar as well, thus incentivizing the school to rally the community around the benefits of clean energy.”

NYSERDA estimates that New York State’s solar capacity in 2013 was four times what it was in 2011.

“The next phase of this work is to lower the costs of project initiation by encouraging the aggregation of customers, helping more people to deploy solar through consumer awareness and lowering the total cost of solar photovoltaic systems,” the governor's message states.

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