L.I.’s future solar users are getting a raw deal


New York is headed in the wrong direction on solar power.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which is in charge of the state’s solar programs, is offering special funding to help homeowners offset the cost of a new fee on rooftop solar installations charged by local power companies — but it’s for upstate solar users, not Long Islanders.
Isn’t the state supposed to be encouraging solar, according to the ambitious plans laid out by Andrew Cuomo, when he was governor, to drastically reduce the state’s carbon footprint? What gives?
NYSERDA officials say the agency has no jurisdiction over the Long Island Power Authority’s solar power plan, and thus cannot offer a financial offset here, according to Newsday. The “transition” fee, as it’s being called, is expected to amount to $5 to $10 a month, starting in January, on solar systems installed after Jan. 1.
In 2019, Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The state now aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050, with 100 percent zero-emission electricity production by 2040. Rooftop solar figures centrally into the state’s plans.
So, why are local power companies like LIPA charging a fee on new solar installations? It’s not entirely clear.
World leaders convened in recent weeks in Glasgow, Scotland, to hash out a new climate agreement that, among other measures, seeks to reduce the release of methane gas from any number of sources and the use of coal as a major fuel source to produce electricity. The world, as the summit made clear, is racing toward potential climate disaster, and swift action is required.
The clearly unfair treatment of Long Island’s future solar users stands to potentially slow the spread of a technology that would only help New York meet its climate goals and obligations. LIPA shouldn’t impose any fee on new solar users.
At the same time, it seems, NYSERDA is abandoning its obligation to Long Island electric customers. It really should step in and step up here.