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Letter: Don't lose LI gains in solar

Rob Cooke, left, and Keith Benzaquin, from Green

Rob Cooke, left, and Keith Benzaquin, from Green Logic Energy, based in Southampton, install solar panels earlier this summer on the roof of St. Anthony's High School in Huntington. (June 24, 2013) Credit: Steve Pfost

In "State to take over LI solar panel rebate" [News, March 13], it's not at all clear that New York State Energy Research and Development Authority taking over would be a good thing.

NYSERDA is a competent organization. However, the Long Island Power Authority is regularly listed among the top 10 municipal utilities for annual solar installations by the nonprofit Solar Electric Power Association, and changing the administration of a highly successful program does raise some questions.

With only 15 percent of the state's population, Long Island accounts for about 45 percent of total installed solar megawatts in New York. If NYSERDA administers the program, will there be Long Island based staff? Will the institutional experience and connections with Long Island's industry be lost?

The federal tax credit for solar installation is set to expire at the end of 2016. The state rebate program is planned to end in 2017. If a strong, self-sustaining solar industry is not developed by that time, there is a danger of the collapse of the industry, continued dependence on polluting fossil fuels, and the loss of many green jobs. We should be careful to ensure that ongoing stewardship of the program is the best possible.

Andrew Manitt, Rockville Centre

Editor's note: The writer is the research director for the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College.