My colleague, Shaun Chapman, of our New York City office, offers this update on solar policy progress in the Empire State:

Though it is the 5th largest solar state (PDF) (as measured by cumulative installed photovoltaic capacity), there have been strong feelings among solar proponents that New York needs to play catch up in the photovolatic market. It is catching up. Fast.

Two very important bills just passed the legislature and will immediately be signed by Gov. David Patterson (D-N.Y.) who has long been a supporter of renewables.

The first is a property tax bill that would allow solar customers to receive a credit of roughly 35 percent of the cost of the solar installation over five years.

Press here, bill text here.

This is a really big deal. There are a lot of rooftops in Queens, and a 35 percent sale for solar is a healthy chunk of change.

Secondly, New York has changed its ancient net metering rules (a 1997 law, so in renewable energy years that’s like 80 years).

The previous rule limited net metering to 10 kW for solar, residential installations only, and 100 kW for wind and agricultural customers. It was a progressive law for a time when “MMMbop” dominated the airwaves.

The new rule: Two MW for wind and solar, 500 kW for anaerobic digesters; all customer classes can participate: Schools, businesses, municipal buildings, and churches.

I don’t know if the music has improved since 1997, but our energy laws have.

Yes, Shaun, the music has improved too. Good work, and congratulations to all the New York solar activists that made these important bills happen.