New York Utilities Oppose Solar Energy Proposal

Proposed solar legislation in New York is opposed by area utility companies
Proposed solar legislation in New York is opposed by area utility companies

Solar legislation making its way through the New York state Assembly and Senate is generating opposition from utility companies who argue that the two bills, which would require the utilities to boost their solar power generation, would significantly increase electric bills for consumers and businesses.

The bills propose to require both investor- and government-owned utilities to boost their solar electricity offerings to account for 2.5 percent of their overall power sales by 2025. That would mean an increase from less than 25 megawatts in generation capacity now to 5,000 megawatts by 2025.

Utilities Protest Solar Mandate

Five utilities sent a memo dated June 18 to lawmakers to protest the two bills (A11004 and S7093), contending that the proposed mandate would increase the bill of an average residential customer to between $37.56 and $87.26 in 2025, from $2.64 to $6.29 in 2015. The utilities are Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Consolidated Edison, New York State Electric & Gas, Orange and Rockland Utilities, and Rochester Gas and Electric.

National Grid has sent a separate memo stating its opposition. The utility estimates that almost $20 billion in capital investments would be needed to meet the proposed goal, and ratepayers would help to foot the costs.

The Independent Power Producers of New York (IPPNY), meanwhile, doesn't like the provision that would allow the utilities to own solar power plants in order to meet 25 percent of the mandated amount.

"The state has long standing policies on the restructuing of and competition within the electric industry and the shift of investment risks away from captive ratepayers to private investors. No evidence exists that utility or public power authority ownership of renewable resources is necessary for the state to meet its renewable energy goals," according to IPPNY's protest memo.

Proponents claim the legislation would create 22,000 jobs and $20 billion in economic output, such as wages and revenue. Critics say the state already mandates renewable energy generation and is close to meeting its goal largely through hydroelectric and wind power production.

The bills could reach a full vote by the lawmakers by the end of this month.