New York's solar industry working to shrug off pandemic cloud
May 26, 2020
Albany Times Union
ALBANY – The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a cloud over residential solar energy development in New York State, setting back the pace of development by six months to a year, according to a recent survey.
A convergence of factors, ranging from New York’s archaic municipal permitting process to the pressures from private equity investors, means that growth in the industry may be slower than previously thought, according to a recent survey of solar firms.
“Almost no (solar) construction activity has happened since the pause,” said Shyam Mehta, executive director of the New York State Solar Energy Industries Association.
The recently completed survey of solar energy firms operating in New York shows the same financial devastation that has hit countless other industries brought to a halt by the pandemic and its subsequent shutdown.
In aggregate among survey respondents, 63 percent of the solar workforce has been furloughed or laid off since March 1.
That equates to 6,800 lost jobs. Additionally, 54 percent of responders said they don’t have the liquidity to operate beyond six months if the state’s PAUSE, or pandemic shut-down order would have gone beyond mid-May.
Fortunately, the state has been lifting the pandemic shutdown, allowing many solar projects to re-start this week, with the exception of New York City.