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Prospect Lefferts Gardens: HCS Stronghold!

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama applauded solar energy, noting, “we are giving homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy,” and even referenced New York as being a big part of the movement. Even in Brooklyn we have seen an incredible jump in solar energy investments this past year. In 2015 alone, 70 people joined Here Comes Solar and 10 of those people have solar electricity systems that are already up and running on their rooftops!

The last Here Comes Solar group was formed in 2015 and is located in Lefferts Manor, a tight-knit neighborhood of historic landmarked homes. This was the second group in the Prospect Lefferts Garden region, which is quickly becoming one of the most concentrated solar strongholds in Brooklyn. Julie Triedman, a homeowner on Maple Street, was a terrific champion of solar on her block, and recruited three additional members right on her street to join the group, and a few more have joined as add-ons following their installer selection. The group convened at the home of another HCS member, Ted Colgate, where a few local installers gave their pitches to the group. There are now eight people that are going solar together in this group, and they are still accepting more neighbors for the next month - sign up here.

The Lefferts Manor Neighbors selected Brooklyn SolarWorks as their installer! (Not pictured: Julie Triedman)

The Lefferts Manor Neighbors selected Brooklyn SolarWorks as their installer! (Not pictured: Julie Triedman)

The ninth Here Comes Solar group will be going live tomorrow, and there will be many more to come!

Scenes from a Flat Roof Solar Installation in Brooklyn

Liam Galloway is one of Here Comes Solar's talented new volunteers. In the coming months he will be documenting the experiences of current HCS homeowner members as they advance through the different stages of solar project completion. Liam's Brilliant Blog posts will feature simple video-based answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about the practical aspects of going solar. In this first installment, Liam shares step-by-step visual insights into how the process of solar installation actually happens on flat roof row houses here in New York City. Liam shadowed a crew from HCS Qualified Installer Brooklyn SolarWorks as they installed a 6 kilowatt solar electric system on the home of HCS member Bob Harvey. Bob is one of five members of the very first HSC group, the Prospect Gowanus Neighbors, which is now fully installed. Below Liam shares a brief account of what he saw and recorded on Bob's roof last month. Thanks Liam - we look forward to future posts!


In the first week of November in 2015, I had the opportunity to document a solar installation project by a team from Brooklyn SolarWorks. The installation was taking place on a beautiful, low-rise townhouse in Park Slope. Two arrays holding 18 solar panels in total were installed in a week. The team was professional, efficient, and had a strong sense of solar equipment and how to build the best system.

I arrived on site, to an empty roof with little knowledge of the technology and equipment needed for installing solar. As long metal pipes were brought through the hatch, up to the roof I wasn’t sure what to expect. I observed as the team measured distances from the hatch to the edge of the roof, and from the edge of the roof to the vents, to be certain there was a clear, 6-foot path from one side to the other. Several possibilities for the placements of both arrays were looked at, to ensure all 18 panels would fit. Later in the day, the array placements were finalized and all the equipment minus the panels were on the roof. The construction of the arrays began as soon as the panels were lifted up to the roof the next day. From my perspective, knowing little about the process, I was very interested watching the entire system come together over the following few days.

Piece by piece, the array was assembled as the team cut no corners and double-checked all measurements, making sure everything was attached to the roof and sturdy. I stood by and observed as I filmed the team go from drilling the bases into the roof all the way up until attaching the panels to the rails on the arrays. After hearing reports about installing solar on other residential low-rises in Brooklyn, I was grateful to witness the installation process first-hand. The experience allowed me to see the arrays come together from a concept to reality in a short period of time. I was pleased to see the efficiency and professionalism from Brooklyn SolarWorks throughout the entire installation.

Shared Solar: Strategies for Low and Moderate Income Inclusion in New York State (VIDEO)

On December 4th, Here Comes Solar hosted Joy Hughes, Founder of the Solar Gardens Institute, for an hour-long webinar Shared Solar: Strategies for Low and Moderate Income Inclusion in New York State. The live event was hosted at Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) in the LES and attended by representatives from several NYC-based community advocacy and environmental justice organizations. An additional 30 participants attended the webinar remotely from around the state. Big thank you to Joy for presenting, GOLES for hosting, and Ayo Harrington for helping make it all happen!

The full webinar details can be found below.

Shared Solar: Strategies for Low and Moderate Income Inclusion in New York State

Presenter: Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
Date: December 4, 2015

How can we make access to clean renewable energy a human right? Until recently, the majority of residential solar energy systems have been installed for well-off homeowners with sunny roofs. A solar garden is like a community garden - instead of having a patch of vegetables, a customer benefits from a number of panels in a shared array, with power produced credited on the electric bill.

New York’s new Community Shared Renewables program includes important provisions to incentivize the participation of LMI customers. Until April 30, 2016, each array installed under the program in certain areas must provide at least 20% of its capacity to LMI customers. This workshop will explore business models for solar gardens that are advantageous to LMI customers, allowing for energy savings and the ability to own their own panels.

Specific topics:
- Review of community solar models for LMI customers
- Community outreach and customer acquisition in LMI communities
- The relative benefits of solar ownership versus solar power purchases for LMI customers
- The National Community Solar Partnership (White House / Department of Energy)
- Recent changes in IRS policy
- Upcoming changes to federal tax credits
- Securities Law considerations
- Common challenges and hurdles

http://www.solargardens.org/frequently-asked-questions/ Less...


HCS’s Group Solar Map [BETA] launched on Sunblock

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 4.31.21 PM

As we've made it to 50 members over the last 6 months, we discovered that we need a convenient way for interested homeowners throughout the five boroughs to quickly find out where HCS Solar Groups are forming that they can potentially join. This map is our first go at that concept, using CARTODB. In the coming weeks we'll be tweaking and adding to its functionality to make it more useful and helpful.  Please email any thoughts and ideas on how we can make it better (email: neidl@solar1.org).

HCS Chat: Inside the Solar Group Experience – A Conversation with Homeowner and HCS Member Garry Golden

In this Chat, HCS Director Chris Neidl talks with homeowner, HCS member and academic futurist Garry Golden about how he and three of his neighbors formed and expanded the Windsor Place Neighbors Solar Group in the Brooklyn neighborhood of South Slope/Windsor Terrace.  Garry shares his insights into the process of selecting local solar installer Green Street Solar Power using HCS's proposal platform SunBlock, and how he and his fellow core group members were able to triple the number of group participants after installer selection through their own direct outreach in the neighborhood.

In many ways, the experience and initiative of the Windsor Place Neighbors have made a permanent impact on the HCS Group Solar model, demonstrating with great effectiveness one of the core principals that Here Comes Solar is based on: Solar's inherent potential for 'social creativity', the ability of solar adopters to collectively shape the terms of their own solar experience, and overcome barriers and challenges that stand in the way of adoption. Hats off, big thanks and congratulations to Garry, Ann, Carl, Elsie, Karen, Mark, Eric and Nancy for their energy, contribution and successful group solar experience!


Herecomessolar.nyc Homeowner Survey - Interested in forming or joining an HCS Solar Group in NYC? Start by filling out our survey. We can determine if solar is a good fit for your home and lead you through the process of making a decision, and joining a group.

Garrygolden.com - Garry's website, full of his many, very interesting writings on various subjects in futurism, including energy. Check it out!

Brooklyn row house solar example - A short video tour of a typical Brooklyn row house solar electric system, presented by solar installer and HCS friend Matt Myshkin. (Garry refers to this during the chat).

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