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Long Island

LI leads state in solar power

A bicyclist rides past the massive solar farm

A bicyclist rides past the massive solar farm that is nearing completion along Edwards Avenue in Calverton, Saturday, April 4, 2015. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Long Island leads New York in the number of solar energy projects installed and the amount of power they can produce, but growth of sun power on the Island is the slowest in the state, according to recent state figures.

At the end of 2014, Long Island boasted 10,943 solar installations on home rooftops, warehouses and a handful of large commercial arrays, with a maximum capacity of 96 megawatts, according to the state.

That's up from 4,938 projects in 2011, with a maximum output of 37.8 megawatts. Each megawatt of solar powers about 155 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, an industry group.

But Long Island's growth rates on a project and total megawatt basis are the lowest in the state, at 122 percent and 154 percent, respectively, between 2011 and 2014. By comparison, the Albany region has seen a 500 percent growth in megawatts and 240 percent growth in projects over that period; New York City saw 516 percent growth in megawatts and 548 percent growth in projects installed.

Statewide, available solar power increased to 315 megawatts last year, compared with 77.9 megawatts in 2011. Installations statewide grew 189 percent, to 25,947 projects, compared with 8,989 in 2011.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office said his $1 billion NY-Sun initiative is "significantly expanding the use of solar throughout New York as it becomes a sustainable, subsidy-free industry already supporting thousands of jobs."

Market watchers said Long Island's comparatively smaller growth stems chiefly from the fact that the region is starting from a much larger base than others, so matching the higher growth rates of the Mohawk Valley, for instance, where there are only 651 projects, is a challenge.

But they also note that a now-state-run program that lowered rebates and incentives on Long Island compared with other areas of the state have tempered growth in the business sector.

"We had a pretty good slowdown on Long Island" in the small-commercial market, said Carlo Lanza, chairman of the Long Island Solar Energy Industries Association, a local business group.

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