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Solar Power for Affordable Housing

Solar One today announced the launch of Affordable Solar New York. The nonprofit initiative will bring low-cost solar power to affordable housing providers in New York, which provide critical housing and services to low-income residents. Solar can significantly reduce energy costs for both operators and tenants, yet up-front costs, credit scores and complex financing remain significant barriers for this sector to access the technology.

Affordable Solar New York will address these barriers by providing no-cost technical assistance, reduced-cost installation and zero-down financing options to Housing Development Fund Corporation cooperatives and other affordable housing providers in New York City. Projects will include both job training and energy efficiency education opportunities for residents.

“To reach Mayor de Blasio’s landmark OneNYC vision for a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient New York City, all New Yorkers will need the ability to tap into the cost and energy saving benefits that solar energy can provide,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “I applaud Solar One, GRID Alternatives, and Co-op Power on the launch of Affordable Solar New York, an important step toward a more inclusive energy landscape in New York City.”

Affordable Solar New York’s inaugural project is with Nazareth Housing, a supportive housing organization that serves vulnerable New Yorkers on the Lower East Side and promotes housing stability and economic independence among low-income families and individuals in New York City. Solar One provided technical assistance for the project, which will be installed by GRID Alternatives in early 2017 through its unique workforce development model, and financed through Co-op Power’s innovative financing. The solar electric system will provide more than 80% of the building’s annual common area electricity and is projected to save the organization 30% on its overall electricity costs over the system’s 25 year life, savings that will allow Nazareth Housing to better serve its constituents.

“For nearly 35 years, Nazareth Housing has creatively endeavored to develop sustainable, affordable housing in the Lower East Side and the Bronx,” said Michael Callaghan, Executive Director of Nazareth Housing. “I am truly pleased that our building will be the inaugural solar project of Affordable Solar New York. Being in a flood zone that was significantly impacted by superstorm Sandy, solar capacity brings environmental and fiscal benefits, while also helping us build resiliency for the future.”

Through Affordable Solar New York, the partners plan to develop and install a number of multifamily affordable solar projects in 2017 and facilitate dozens more through technical assistance. The initiative dovetails with new state funding for low-income solar announced last week by Governor Cuomo, which could further reduce costs for housing providers.

Affordable housing providers and Housing Development Fund cooperatives interested in solar technical assistance can visit www.affordablesolarny.org to get started.

Affordable Solar New York is made possible by The JPB Foundation through its support of GRID Alternatives’ multifamily program, and The Kresge Foundation, The 11th Hour Project, a program of The Schmidt Family Foundation, Rosin Fund of The Scherman Foundation, and The Mertz Gilmore Foundation for their generous support of Solar One. Nazareth Housing was connected with Affordable Solar New York through Solarize LES, a community campaign supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

If you are an affordable housing developer, an HDFC co-op board member, or low or moderate income resident in NYC and would like to know more, please click here and fill out a short survey and we will get back to you.

The Weinsteins Go Green!

Prospect Heights homeowners Matt and Stacey Weinstein joined a Here Comes Solar group last August and are getting their solar panels installed now! After a robust permitting process that involved the LPC, FDNY, and DOB, 14 high-efficiency SunPower solar panels and a SolarEdge inverter (plus optimizers) will create significant reductions on their grid-power usage.

Follow their installation photo-story on Matt's website.

Evan is stacking the panels so they are accessible when they begin to fasten them to the frame.



HCS Chat: A Quick Look at the HCS Member Hal Drellich’s Solar Energy Installation

In this Chat, HCS volunteer Chloe Holden interviews homeowner, HCS member and Crown Height North Association board member Hal Drellich about his experience getting solar installed through Here Comes Solar.  Hal shares his insights into the process of selecting qualified solar installer Brooklyn SolarWorks using HCS’s proposal platform SunBlock, and shows off his system that is generating enough energy to offset all of his energy needs!

Solar Pioneers of Central Harlem

Yvette and Adrian live in a modernly renovated townhouse in central Harlem, inconspicuously located on 112th st near Morningside Park. They took a dilapidated property and turned it into a green  building that is expertly designed to be energy efficient. The architect they hired wisely included solar panels in the design!

This project was completed in 2009, which makes them pioneers in the neighborhood for bringing 3.2 kw of solar to their rooftop. The installer they used, called Tristate solar,  was hired by their architect.

We met with Adrian and Yvette to talk about their experience and see how it fits into our overall initiative to bring more solar to rooftops in NYC.

Yvette:  As far as we knew when we were installing, we were the only ones that we knew of in the area, so we were pretty much pioneers.

Silvia: I definitely commend you guys for that.

Yvette: Oh thank you!  Yeah, it was definitely part of the premise of sort of being a green house and we always wanted to.

Adrian: Yeah the house is also designed to have cross ventilation. You know there is a window and for each there is a window on the other side. And also, it adds a lot of light so that you don’t use artificial light.

Screenshot 2016-04-25 11.52.02 (1)Yvette and Adrian were clearly very motivated to get the solar panels on their roof, but now that they have been installed they hardly pay mind to them. The system silently produces energy for them, meanwhile they said that they have no idea how much and what that is saving them on their electricity bill. Yvette said, “It would be great to have someone demystify that process. For us it’s just the ConEd man that goes down there, reads something, goes, leaves.” They expressed that they are aware of some reduction “But it would be nice to drill down on the numbers and you know see this is really what it meant for you and this is what your investment actually gave you. That would be awesome to get that.” Yvette said. This is exactly the type of service that Here Comes Solar provides at no cost to the program’s participants. For homeowners interested in going solar, estimates of costs and savings reassure them that it would be a good investment. For Yvette and Adrian, we were able to show their return on investment.

Going solar doesn’t have to be intimidating when connected to the right people and provided with the right information. Adrian and Yvette were able to have their architect help them through the process and take care of the paperwork. Without that help Yvette expressed that “We would have never been able to venture, I mean we loved it as an idea but I don’t think we would have persevered and been able to get connected to the right people.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.46.40 AM

After investigating further we were able to determine that, even though they went in blind,  they have seen some savings. We estimate that they offset about a quarter of their usage. You can see from the graph that they still use a lot of electricity in the summer months, probably because of air conditioning. Over the past 7 years they have saved $6, 164.83 on their electricity bills.  Including tax credits and rebates, they have almost completely payed for the system. They payed about 30 grand which was actually a reasonable price considering that that’s $9.50 per watt.

Solar in the Snow

top of roof looking at WTC

One of the biggest concerns that homeowners have in the winter is how snow will impact solar energy. Snow is actually not the adversary of solar productivity and does not require you to perform any extra maintenance on your solar electricity system.

Panels installed on a flat-roof are usually installed at an angle and tilt in such a way that they face the sun. The tilt of the panel makes it difficult for snow to accumulate while enabling accumulated snow to slide off easily.

Like anything else, something that faces the sun will heat up, which is exactly what solar panels do. The heat of the panel melts any snow that may have accumulated, clearing the way for the panels to function as they normally would. Even if panels are installed flat on a roof, they will still heat up and melt the snow eventually.

Solar panels actually work better when it is colder out, so there may even be an increase in productivity on a sunny winter day!

Garry, one of the homeowners in our third SunBlock group was able to experience the first snow of 2016 with solar on his rooftop, and documented his system’s solar energy production in the days around the blizzard.

There are 17 SunPower 327 Watt solar panels with Solar Edge optimizers on Garry’s roof, a total capacity of 5,559 Watts. The photo below shows Garry’s system in the autumn. The panels are angled southward, and you can even see the sunlight really hitting the panels on the left side of the photo.40 Windsor Place completed


On January 23rd at 1:13PM after snow had been falling for many hours and accumulating on the ground, Garry’s solar panels on the roof were still producing energy-- 1.24 kWh, 7% of his average daily electric usage. That was pretty amazing considering that there was snow on the panels and there was no sun in sight!



The following day was bright and sunny with tons of 2 feet high piles of snow all around Brooklyn. By 3:57PM that day when the sun was already low in the sky, Garry’s system actually exceeded his average daily usage, producing over 19 kWh, over 100% of his daily average electric usage. That means that he would get a credit on his Con Ed bill for the extra energy his solar electricity system produced.Screenshot_2016-01-24-16-23-41

Garry's system actually produced more on the day following the blizzard than the days earlier in the week!


So instead of worrying about snow, play in it!

in honor of the blizzard, we built two feet of snow! ☃

A post shared by Angelica Ramdhari (@jeliy) on

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