EmPower to LIPA: Hold the line on renewable programs budget - EmPower Solar

EmPower to LIPA: Hold the line on renewable programs budget

Earlier this week, LIPA announced that the 2014 budget for renewable energy programs will be cut by $26 million dollars compared to last year’s budget. Yesterday, the utility held a series of public hearings regarding the 2014 proposed budget.  EmPower Solar was proud to stand with others from the Long Island Solar Energy Industry Association (LISEIA) and with energy advocates to encourage the utility to preserve the budget for renewable energy programs.

EmPower Solar’s marketing manager and resident activist Tara Bono testified at the morning hearing.

Here’s what she had to say:

Good afternoon LIPA Board of Trustees, I think you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Tara Bono, I am the marketing manager at EmPower Solar, an Island Park based company with over 60 employees and 650 solar installations. Our company was founded on Long Island in 2003 and has had the opportunity to work with LIPA on creating a healthy market for solar energy in our region. There is no doubt that LIPA has been an outstanding partner for the solar industry, and we are grateful.

Business Stability

This year has been one of the most challenging years on record for EmPower Solar. We started off the year off with a robust $1.75 residential rebate. In July, our company was suddenly capped at selling just 6 jobs, a significant decrease from our monthly average. In August the rebate disappeared completely and in September we heard that the rebate would be returning.

The ups and downs that we have faced over the last year had a negative impact on moral. Furthermore, it is extremely hard to manage staffing, budgets, and business plans with such uncertainty.

While we would love to see the funding levels for 2014 be the same as 2013, we realize this might not be realistic. The reduced rebate of .66 cents per kW, will no doubt hinder the growth of our company if not worse but we will do what we can to work with it. What we cannot work with is a rebate that is here today, capped tomorrow, gone next week, but may return one day.

Just as you are preparing your 2014 budget today, our company would like to be able to do the same. Unfortunately, we can’t do that without a strong commitment from you that the rebate will be stabilized. Simply put, we respectively request a commitment of reliability in both rebate amount and in length of time it will be present for.

The budget references a potential “statewide” solar rebate program. Further clarification on this is desperately needed.

Continued commitment to renewable energy

Our company’s mission is to EmPower our clients to control energy costs, reduce their environmental footprint, and achieve energy independence. At the end of the day, that is what every Long Islander wants.

Renewable energy sources do this by providing cheaper electricity, creating local jobs, and contributing to a healthier more prosperous world. With your support, we look forward to making Long Island a leader in the national renewable energy sector and allowing residents to recognize the economic benefits of going solar.

We have a choice. We can provide residents with much needed rate relief by allowing them to make the switch to renewable energy, or we can continue to increase rates to keep fueling and running old, inefficient, expensive power plants that mark our landscape.

Grid Reliability

Yesterday, we heard the new PSEG President say that boosting grid reliability is a major goal for next year. There is no doubt that renewables will be part of achieving that goal. We look forward to working with LIPA/PSEG as vocal stakeholders in shaping the grid 2.0 policy this upcoming year and incorporating renewables and back up energy into a smarter system that will bring our grid into the 21st century.

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