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Can Renewable Energy Help the Pandemic Recovery Efforts?

May 8, 2020

We envision a future in which everyone participates in the clean energy movement, and local economies thrive on it. Today, we’re looking at how renewable energy fits into communities’ successful recovery from the COVID-19 shutdowns. Millions of people have had to stay at home in our collective effort to slow the spread of the virus, and many have filed for COVID-19 unemployment benefits. New York is the hardest hit of all in the pandemic, yet the push by the state to accelerate renewable energy projects will boost New Yorkers’ opportunities to regain life-sustaining income.

New York’s Supercharges Its Renewable Energy Sector

New York is striving to source 70% of its electricity from renewables, following the guidance and timelines in the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). This is why New York passed a budget amendment to enact its Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act.

Under new, pioneering legislation:

    • New York’s Public Service Commission can provide discounts on utility bills to residents of communities with clean energy projects.
    • The state’s newly created Office of Renewable Energy Permitting, situated in the Department of Economic Development, will support reclamation of unused industrial sites, job creation, and the development of a well-functioning energy grid.
    • Solar projects will further expand the Empire State’s outstanding growth over the past decade in solar power.

New York has established a model for the region and the country, with one of the strongest clean energy initiatives of any state, intended to arrive at carbon-neutrality and zero-carbon electricity for all industries and residents by 2040—a feat that would solidify New York as one of the the country’s leading climate champions.

Without doubt, green energy jobs are critical to support, having already risen at more than double the state’s overall rate, and constituting some 150,000 jobs for New Yorkers. Indeed, solar jobs across the country have increased five times the rate of overall job growth over the past five years.

How Community Solar Increases the Resilience in Regional Economies

The creation of a solar project bolsters the use of local workers and services, and brings customers to the surrounding community’s businesses. The economic benefits continue as the energy becomes available and affects electricity costs. And availability can be very quick: the solar sector’s speed in scaling up and turning on the power is a key factor in its tremendous growth.

Then there is the connection between health and resilience. A Harvard study detected a higher death rate from COVID-19 in communities with more air pollution, scientifically connecting fuel exhaust and human resilience. The researchers studied people long exposed to pollution generated from the burning of fuels, including at power plants. Their findings further affirm the proven links between air pollution and higher risks of hospitalizations and deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses. This highlights yet another way community solar projects support stronger communities, by bringing immediate reductions in carbon emissions. The solar energy sector is also attuned to strong health-related standards including best practices for flattening the curve of viral spread.

Keeping Solar Power on the Growth Track Makes Us Stronger

A record year was projected for the solar energy sector. Then came COVID-19. Now, given the commitment of state policymakers like New York’s, solar power will stay on track, to help people regain their economic and physical health and safety. At Ampion, we’re here to help make it happen. We engage and support the regional clean energy suppliers who help people and regional economies thrive.

The challenge we face today only strengthens our resolve to connect people with community energy. Contact us with any questions or sign-up for community solar to join this vital trend.

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