One persistent criticism of solar-power incentives is that they primarily benefit rich people that do not need tax breaks to survive. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on December 6 that he would try to do something about that. The state will provide $3.6 million aimed directly at individuals with low or moderate incomes. It will be awarded to affordable housing providers and other community organizations to help them overcome the challenges of installing solar energy projects. The funds will be available to communities that earn less than 80% of the median income.
The Governor cited multiple barriers to the solar market, including financing, procurement, marketing, and customer outreach. He is not the first person to tackle these challenges. Steamboat Springs, Colorado has invested in community solar gardens that the less fortunate can earn a share of by helping install them. In Woodland, California, a nonprofit developer installed solar panels that offset electricity bills for its farmworker tenants. And the White Earth Nation tribe in Minnesota created a nonprofit that hangs solar panels on the south-facing sides of low-income homes. Governor Cuomo’s funds will be disbursed on a competitive basis to applicants that propose projects like these that are both economically viable and beneficial to low and moderate-income communities.
This investment is being touted as part of Gov. Cuomo’s NY-Sun effort to rev up the solar industry with $1 billion in investment. It comes at an interesting time for the state’s electricity markets, which were partially deregulated 17 years ago. The state’s public utility commission announced recently that it will review the electricity and natural gas markets because “the retail markets servicing mass-market customers are not providing sufficient competition or innovation to properly serve customers.” States vary, but in deregulated states customers can often slash their electricity bill by negotiating directly with their utility. The experts at AGR Group can tell you how with a free consultation. Contact us today.