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Cuomo Expanding NYC Solar (Green) Market While Rewarding Minorities & Women

Earlier this year Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed his plans to really spruce up New York State’s renewable energy targets in his annual State of the State address. In a comprehensive speech stressing his objectives regarding budgets and policy during the first hundred days of 2019, Governor Cuomo revealed his Social, Economic and Racial Justice Agenda for 2019. Of particular interest are his policy assurances regarding renewable energy, such as increasing delivered solar energy twofold to a whopping 6GW by 2025.

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During Cuomo’s address he impressively, and with the most aggressive goal in the US, revealed his goal to mandate one-hundred percent renewable energy by 2040. If approved, this target would be ahead of California’s newly approved target by five years. Governor Cuomo’s plan stands on increasing the Clean Energy Standard mandate from fifty to seventy percent by 2030, an already wildly successful program. This would include a substantial rise to specific technological goals. Moreover, the Governor plans, through the Clean Energy Standard, to double the newly initiated extensive land-based solar and wind resources. This would allow the potential of New York’s current renewable resources and contributions to be maximized, and by 2030 have 3 GW of energy storage deployed.

A little off topic, but about a year ago the Governor announced legislation to expand and reaffirm the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) Program to additional State-funded contracts. This will include all State-funded contracts, the largest pot of funding provided by the State in its history to battle systemic discrimination and ultimately provide fresh opportunities to entry-level MWBE program participants.

This government memorandum has catapulted woman owned enterprises in the NY Solar Market and allowed them to take advantage of the state-wide solar expansion. In fact, the first cooperatively owned renewable community solar power project in New York State was awarded to the woman owned 770 Electric Corp., the exclusive partner of the renowned NY solar provider Grid City Electric. Sandy Bar, the president of 770 Electric was quoted as saying “770 Electric Corp. is honored to be an integral part of this major community solar project for this city agency and help expand renewable energy into the broader New York market”.

Let’s look through some of the fine details of the aforementioned programs on a micro level. These initiatives add to the existing capacity-building opportunities, tools and resources that the State offers to MWBE participants, which include:

  • Regional Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Opportunities Expo Series – Held annually, the MWBE Opportunities Expo Series highlights panel discussions and workshops regarding New York State MWBE certification and resources for business development
  • New York State Surety Bond Assistance Program – Launched in 2012 this program aims to provide assistance, whether financial or technical, to small businesses and MWBEs secure surety bonding.
  • Bridge to Success Loan Program – A loan program launched in 2014 with a $20 million investment by the Governor to broaden access to short term bridge loans for MWBEs that are New York State Certified. The program aims to provide MWEBs that are qualified the temporary support they would require to access up to one-hundred-million dollars in contracts from the State.

Acquiring representative participation in the economy by women and minorities has long been supported by Cuomo. State-certified MWBEs have acquired over ten-billion in State contracts since 2011. The proposed legislation would also establish a Workforce Diversity Program creating opportunities for women and minorities through workforce participation goals for contractors thus giving rise to job opportunities for women and minorities in various industries, such as renewable energy, that New York State does business with.

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Tie it up altogether, it should come as no surprise then that Governor Cuomo’s proposals related to renewable energy and MWBE program participants are warmly welcomed by the women and minorities in the solar industry.