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PNS Daily Newscast - August 13, 2020 

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Power - For New Yorkers, By New Yorkers

June 30, 2008

Albany, NY — Homeowners and businesses all across New York now have the legal right and even some incentives to generate their own electricity and run their utility meters backwards. A new bill passed in Albany earlier this month expands "net metering," which allows electric customers who produce clean power to sell any kilowatts they don't use back to the grid.

Jeff Irish, an engineer and founder of Hudson Valley Clean Energy, says his company has been installing small solar-power generators for homeowners for awhile, but the expanded law means homeowners can install bigger units. And now, for the first time, businesses can get into the act.

"It will lift the limit for residential up to 25 kilowatts, and for non-residential from zero kilowatts up to 2,000 kilowatts, so it allows them to put in good-sized systems that can reduce or eliminate their electric bill."

Last year, big utility companies opposed expanding opportunities for New Yorkers to generate their own clean power, but this session they had a change of heart. Valerie Strauss with the Alliance for Clean Energy New York notes compromises were made on issues, such as the size of the units.

"You're not going to put a system on your house that can provide electricity for three houses — it's just not economic to do that. At the same time, it showed the utilities that we were acting in good faith: We were not trying to turn every homeowner or business into a mini-generator. It's simply to provide power for your on-site use."

Rebates to help offset installation costs are available through the state energy authority (NYSERDA). Meanwhile, just across the state line, so many people are interested in installing their own power generators that New Jersey is altering the incentives it offers.

Michael Clifford/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NY