After a gloomy start, the clouds are clearing over the state's solar energy industry.
Technological advances, a born-again green movement, and state and federal incentives have boosted the alternative energy market closer to the mainstream.
The rate of installations has nearly tripled in the last year, owing to several factors. They include a state law enabling commercial solar electric users to get credit on their utility bills for pumping surplus energy into the grid. The law has existed for residential solar customers for a decade or so. The practice, known as net metering, solves one of solar energy's biggest limitations - adapting to energy peaks and valleys out of sync with solar production.
Since the beginning of the year, 822 solar voltaic units have been installed statewide, most of them residential, according to figures from the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority. That has already exceeded 670 units installed for all of 2008.Maybe not a boom, but perhaps a boomlet.
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