New York is starting a new initiative designed to help local communities expand their use of solar power.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the program on Friday. Called Community Solar New York, the effort will offer assistance to local governments, schools and community groups interested in investing in solar energy.

Another part of the plan involves offering free consultations to school districts trying to decide whether solar power can be cost-effective. The state will also work with districts to secure financing for solar projects.

Cuomo says creating a "critical mass" of residents and businesses with solar power is another step to making solar power more affordable.