Environmentalists, homeowners question solar incentive cuts
As solar power grows in popularity, environmentalists and homeowners say decisions to cut solar incentives are the wrong move.
The New York Sun program offers cash incentives for solar installations. However, Long Island has burned through more than half of the region's benefits. The state just lowered the incentive to 30 cents per watt of electricity a residential system can generate. It's expected to drop again in May to 20 cents a watt.
"Eliminating these programs are bad for the public, bad for the environment and bad for solar businesses," says Adrienne Esposito, of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
State officials say the cuts are simple economics, in part because the demand for solar on the Island is so great.
"As the costs come down, the need for rebates comes down," says John Rhodes, of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Some solar power installers agree, saying the costs of solar panels have dropped significantly over the years - making solar cheaper.
Today, state and local power officials honored the 10,000th home on Long Island powered in part by solar energy. For homeowners like Huntington's Michael Greaves, solar is still a big investment and Greaves says he might not have invested thousands in his system if he didn't have a lot of incentives to help out.