February 3, 2012

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College research arm looks at future of solar Hudson Valley growth

NEW PALTZ – The development of the solar manufacturing industry is at a crossroads, according to Gerald Benjamin, director of the Center for Research, Education and Outreach at SUNY New Paltz.

The Center has issued a discussion brief, “A Solar Hudson Valley: Toward Further Progress.”

The project, a joint effort of the Center and The Solar Energy Consortium, surveyed the solar industry in the nation and New York.  Among its findings were that although solar manufacturers in the region have made some gains, they require tax incentives now more than ever to help level the playing field with overseas competitors.

The 2011 Power New York Bill is key to spurring demand since it includes megawatt targets for solar project development in the state, the report’s authors said. They said they hope the so-called Solar Jobs Bill will be revisited this year. If approved, the bill would provide investment stability through long-term contracts and competitive bidding in open auctions. That could lead to creation of up to 20,000 clean energy jobs, the authors project.

“President Obama reaffirmed the national commitment to clean alternative energy sources in his state of the union address,” Benjamin said. “Ulster and Dutchess counties lead the state in numbers of households that have installed solar. While this showcases our region’s long support for renewable energy and for innovative technologies, we are at a crossroads.”

Benjamin said the next three to five years “will determine whether solar can truly become a reliable, long-term driver for our economy.”

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