Thanks to one of our Crown Heights members, Here Comes Solar has discovered an additional New York State tax credit that will further reduce the cost of installing solar for homes located in dozens of designated historic preservation districts scattered throughout the five boroughs. The Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Credit (HHRC) covers 20% (up to a $50,000 in credits) of the cost of improvements – including solar installations! – that are completed on owner-occupied homes located within 1. historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places AND 2. income-qualified census tracts. These zones continue to form and expand, particularly in Brooklyn, and currently encompass several thousand homes in dozens of different neighborhoods, including Crown Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, and Sunset Park in Brooklyn where Here Comes Solar has an active presence.
Our third group of solar homeowners has now officially launched in Brooklyn! With three contractor selections under our belt, we’ve seen our group solar model produce real savings for our members: each group has secured pricing over 20% cheaper than the average solar installation cost in the borough!
We are excited that our newest group shaped up to be four rowhouse owners on the same block of Windsor Place in the South Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. Even with just four households, the efficiency of synchronized site visits and installations and the greater visibility of four new solar arrays on one block makes the project more attractive to installers and therefore more affordable for our members.
Yesterday (May 13) reporter Amy Zimmer at DNAinfo wrote a really nice article on grassroots solar initiatives in NYC that features our work and the experiences of some of HCS’s first members. Big thanks to Prospect Gowanus Neighbors Adel Sarhan and Ann Schaetzel for providing Ms. Zimmer with such excellent accounts of your experiences with HCS! Since the article was posted yesterday we’ve gotten a huge response on our interest survey.
Solar can be a great fit for NYC cooperatives that are looking to contain their ever rising operating costs and save for necessary capital improvements. When a large roof is matched with a large ConEd bill, substantial savings can be realized, year after year, once solar is installed. However, no matter how compelling the argument may be, making the case for solar to an overextended volunteer board and a diverse shareholder base that is unfamiliar with the technology can be a challenging, time-consuming and even highly frustrating undertaking . . . and one that many solar contractors are not willing to take on.
Often, when there is a great opportunity for solar but low knowledge and interest among board members and shareholders, this requires one or more vocal champions from within the coop to educate themselves about solar, and do the work of building understanding and support, sometimes one board member or shareholder at a time.
The Sun Garden Homes cooperative in Sunset Park, Brooklyn presents the story of exactly such a champion – McGowan Southworth – and a small group of engaged shareholders who pooled their creativity, time and skills to make solar happen for their cooperative. This story is captured in HCS’s new report, Cooperative Housing and the Rise of Solar Power in Sunset Park: The Story of SunGarden Homes, written by staff writer Reena Shah. It will inspire any board member or shareholder passionate about solar and committed to championing its benefits and possibilities within their own cooperative.
Today, I’m in Albany for the NY Department of Public Service’s Community Net Metering Stakeholder Meeting to discuss the design of a shared renewable energy program in New York. Shared renewable energy will transform our growing clean energy economy by creating opportunities for renters, low-income residents, and homeowners with unsuitable properties receive economics benefits from solar, wind, and more.
In our new HCS Chats series we hope to speak and share experiences with people all over the city, state, and country (oh heck, the world too!) who are pushing solar in new creative, unconventional directions. For our first chat we stayed extra local and connected with some friends whose efforts we know very well: Ellen Honigstock (Solarize Brooklyn), Mirele Goldsmith (the Jewish Greening Fellowship Solar Program) and Jeffery Irvine (Solarize Community Board 6).
The Solar Foundation (TSF), an independent nonprofit research and education organization, just released its New York Solar Jobs Census. The district-level Census found that New York’s solar industry employed 7,284 New Yorkers in 2014 and added nearly 2,100 solar jobs over the previous year. New York’s 40% solar industry employment growth allowed it to move to 4th in rankings of highest number of solar jobs by state. Solar employment in New York grew nearly 40 times faster than the state’s employment growth rate of 1.1 percent during the same period.
Not only are residential solar electric systems on row houses still relatively rare in New York in 2014, they are also rarely visible since they are typically installed on flat roofs, three or more stories above the street. So it’s understandable that many row house owners might have difficulty envisioning what a solar system on
Here Comes Solar announces the publication of “The Story of Solarize Brooklyn: How a Team of Neighbors Expanded Solar Homeownership in New York City’s Most Populous Borough.” The report (pdf) sponsored by NYSERDA and commissioned by Solar One, illuminates how a small group of volunteers, led by green architect Ellen Honigstock, conceived of and implemented Solarize