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Renewable energy continues to grow in NY, could hit 50% in next few years

Ellen Abbott
WRVO Public Media
Chris Carrick speaks in Manlius.

The pandemic didn’t slow down the renewable energy business in central New York.

Chris Carrick, energy management manager for the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board said expectations were tempered for the growing renewable industry when the pandemic hit.

"Everyone expected that when the pandemic began, progress would be hurt towards solar and other clean energy,” Carrick said. “We haven’t seen that."

Like any other construction industry, the business of building solar energy projects or clean heating and cooling projects had a few bumps here and there, but nothing insurmountable, according to Omni Renewables President Mike Francis.

"We are seeing some impacts as far as the availability of steel and things like that, which is basically a supply chain issue," Francis said. "But basically, there wasn’t a slow down at all.”

Carrick said the solar industry actually began stockpiling solar panels before the pandemic because of Trump Administration tariffs. And even cash-strapped governments continued programs to subsidize clean energy projects. Also, renewable projects could feasibly be in line for some of the resources coming out of the American Recovery Plan. Right now, Carrick said communities like Manlius are trying to get grants through NYSERDA, by encouraging residents to install clean energy heat pumps.

"Even things with insulation and installing heat pumps, the industry really rallied quickly to figure out how to do it safely," Carrick said. “And the installers, our partner installers we work with, HVAC companies, are busier than ever.”

New York state aims to have 70% of electricity used, coming from renewable resources by 2030. Carrick is optimistic they’ll hit that goal.

"We’re at about 27% now,” Carrick said. “All the wind and solar projects already granted funds from the state will add another 23% to that. So, we’ll get to 50% pretty quickly in the next few years.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.