NYSEIA creates Long Island Solar & Storage Alliance to help reach renewable goals

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New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA), the trade association representing solar energy businesses across New York State, announced the official formation of its Long Island Solar & Storage Alliance (LISSA).

The mission of the alliance is to promote a thriving and ethical solar business community on Long Island, and to advocate for rapid solar energy and energy storage development in territory managed by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). The group will be comprised of NYSEIA member companies that are based on Long Island or actively constructing solar and storage projects there. LISSA will replace the organization formerly known as LISEIA, which operated in the region through 2019.

A steering committee of Long Island clean energy leaders with decades of combined experience in the industry will lead the alliance. Tara McDermott, director of customer experience and stakeholder relations at EmPower Solar, is the 2020 LISSA Chair. She is supported by Jonathan Cohen, government liaison for SUNation Solar Systems, as head of policy; by Stephen Foley, director of business development for Sunrise Power Solutions, as head of membership; and by Arthur Perri, Jr., director of sales for CED Greentech Long Island, as head of programs. Bill Feldmann, owner of Empire Clean Energy Supply, serves as LISSA liaison to the NYSEIA Board of Directors.

Long Island has long been at the vanguard of solar energy development in New York, with a total of 467 MWAC of distributed solar installed to date and some of the largest local employers in the industry. Solar growth in Long Island has slowed since the expiration of residential MW-Block incentives in 2016, the introduction of VDER policies in 2018, and a grid that is nearing DER capacity at many LIPA substations. These LISSA priority issues threaten to make New York State’s decarbonization and climate goals more difficult to achieve. According to NYSEIA VP David Schieren, New York will need to install 10 GW of solar on Long Island over the next 10 years to meet New York’s goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040.

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The expansion of community solar will be a high priority for LISSA in 2020. LIPA recently announced a series of improvements to its proposed community solar program that will enable Long Island solar businesses to put projects into development, due in part to months of LISSA advocacy and engagement with the LIPA Board of Trustees. LISSA will continue participating in stakeholder engagement with LIPA to monitor the performance and growth of its Long Island community solar program.

LISSA also plans to work with local towns and municipalities to streamline the siting and permitting process for solar energy and energy storage projects to reduce the timeline and costs for consumers. On behalf of its Long Island members, NYSEIA supported the 2019 Long Island Solar Report Card produced by Citizens Campaign Fund for the Environment. Their research showed that many towns charge excessive fees and/or take up to six months to approve permits for residential solar systems. These market barriers discourage homeowners and local businesses when they are choosing whether to invest in cleaner and cheaper solar energy.

“The formation of LISSA and its integration into NYSEIA is a significant step forward for solar policy on Long Island. LIPA’s recently announced community solar reforms are proof that collective action can drive positive results, and formally bringing LISSA into the NYSEIA fold will improve coordination between our state-level and regional campaigns and allow NYSEIA to bring the full capacity of its resources to bear on critical Long Island solar policy issues,” said Shyam Mehta, NYSEIA executive director.

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“By joining forces with our colleagues in the rest of New York, we aim to bridge the gap between state policies and local programs here on Long Island. Our merger with NYSEIA and collaboration on key Long Island solar policy priorities going forward will ensure we get on track to meet our renewable energy goals from Montauk to Massena,” said Tara McDermott, LISSA chair.

As far back as the oil crises of the 1970s, Long Island solar leaders have fought for a stable and solar-friendly business environment. Today their efforts are directed toward advancing the solar and energy storage industry on Long Island and beyond.

For a full list of LISSA member companies, and to learn more about NYSEIA Long Island solar energy advocacy, please visit www.nyseia.org/longisland.

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