Cuomo Administration Touts Nearly 800 Percent Increase In New York Solar

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The numbers can be a bit deceiving. New York stated between December 2011 and December 2016, solar installations supported by state initiatives have increased by 615 percent.

"Because we had such a small amount of solar to begin with, we're talking about large percentages," SUNY Buffalo State economics professor Fred Floss said.

The number gets closer to 800 percent when considering the maximum energy output of the new installations. Still, more than two-thirds of the state's roughly 65,000 installed solar projects happened on Long Island and the Mid-Hudson and Capital Regions.

"The only concern I would have is, I hope it catches on more upstate," said Robert Ciesielski, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter energy chair.

Experts said the reasons for the discrepancy could range from the amount of space between houses to the economics of the region and even the type of weather here.

"You can see that it's certain areas, predominantly places that are a little wealthier so they can afford to actually put solar on their roofs, that are skewing it even more," Floss said,

"There's a big demand for renewables on Long Island because of Hurricane Sandy. They realized the problems of climate change and rising seas," Ciesielski said.

Still, Ciesielski said the trends are generally encouraging as the state attempts to add 3,000 megawatts of installed solar capacity by 2023. It's currently at about 744 megawatts with another 886 under development.

"It looks like they're well on their way, especially downstate," Ciesielski said.

Floss said any solar growth supports the state's investment in the industry. It creates a market for SolarCity-Tesla in Buffalo, soon to be North America's largest solar panel manufacturer.

"In the next five yeas is what we're really going to want to be interested in," Floss said. "Are we going to see continued growth? Are we growing at the same or at a faster level? I mean, that's what we want to see."

The Cuomo Administration has called for 50 percent of the states electricity needs to be generated by renewable sources like solar or wind by 2030.

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