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Here Comes Community Solar!

It’s finally here, the dream of solar enthusiasts all over the city: solar for apartments. For years, while single-family homeowners have been installing solar right and left,  New Yorkers have clamored for solar that fits the city lifestyle where most people don’t own their apartments, let alone the roof several floors above them.  So New York State made it possible to participate in what’s called “Community Shared Solar”, where one large array - in a field or on a warehouse roof - can send solar credits to anyone in the same utility zone. After months of planning and building, for the first time, this is possible in New York City, and you can join now.

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The first ever community solar arrays in New York City were built this winter on two warehouses in East New York and will be switched on within the next few weeks.

Together, these two sites hold more than 3,000 solar panels, producing over a megawatt of solar power. That’s enough to offset over 300 apartments… and almost anyone can sign up.

If you haven’t been able to go solar because you rent, your roof is too small, you don’t have the money to spend on a big project, or any other reason, this is a solution.

Community Solar is, at its core, a simple process:

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Image credit: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

When you sign up through the Here Comes Solar website, we’ll reach out to answer any questions and review your Con Edison bill to confirm you are eligible to participate. Then we’ll transfer you to Daroga Power, the owner of the Community Solar array. You’ll get a 12-month contract that you can renew for as many years as you like, and Daroga Power will allocate solar credits from the Community Solar array toward reducing your electricity bill. Each month, Daroga will charge you for 90% of the value of the credits you receive on your bill, so you’re always saving money from day one. 

Join us in accelerating New York City’s solar revolution. Here Comes Community Solar!

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How Much Space Is Needed For Solar?

Making Rowhouses Work brooklyn brownstone

Rowhouse-style buildings make up a quarter of New York City’s residential properties and can be great candidates for solar. But, by nature (typically located on lot sizes no greater than 25 feet), they have small roofs, and therefore face particular challenges. Fire regulations, such as mandatory 6-foot paths, eat up a large percentage of prime solar panel real estate. And then there’s cost--typically, the smaller the system, the higher the install-cost per panel. So how do people do it? How much space is really needed for solar?

First, it’s important to estimate your roof’s solar potential in order to get a sense of the solar capacity. Enter your address into the New York Solar Map for an initial scan of your roof's solar potential.

Offset just a portion of your usage. Rowhouses can offset a substantial portion of their electrical usage, and with NYC's high cost of electricity, even a small array can save you a lot of money. A modest, 5kW system can offset the usage of an average New York City apartment unit. Multi-family rowhouses often have a choice of offsetting all of one apartment, some of all the apartments, or just the common areas.

Install solar canopies. Solar Canopies, an innovative new design that elevates the solar array to at least 9 feet above the roof, creatively maximize roof space so a more substantial array can fit, as well as firepaths. This is a great way to increase system size on a small roof!

Group purchasing. Team up with people in your neighborhood and request a quote from a solar installer for multiple projects at once. This is a good way to lock in lower prices. Ask someone from Here Comes Solar to connect you with potential group purchasing projects.

Multifamily Cooperatives and Rental Properties

Larger buildings with more roof space are often attractive options for solar. Projects of this scale generally cost less per panel installed, and allow for more system design possibilities. While in many cases a solar array will still not produce enough solar to offset the entire building’s usage, it can offset the common areas or offset a portion of individual units’ usage, or both. To learn more about options for multi-family buildings, reach out to an expert at Here Comes Solar.

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Solar Tariff Blues and Confusion – What it Really Means for American Solar

Earlier this week the Trump Administration announced that it was levying a tariff (tax) on all imported solar panels. This tax was supposedly levied to protect American manufacturing jobs, but in reality there are very few USA solar manufacturing jobs to protect. Less than 2% of American solar jobs are in solar panel or cell manufacturing, and the tariff will marginally increase the cost of solar to consumers and therefore slow the growth of more robust sectors of the USA solar industry, which currently employs more than 260,000 Americans. Those of you reading the headlines may be wondering “how big will the impact be?” or “will this impact my ability to save money with solar?” Read on for answers to these questions and to learn more about the tariff and what it really means for our domestic solar industry, and for all of us as potential consumers of clean affordable solar energy.

Read more +

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Introducing Solar Uptown Now

This summer and fall Solar One is continuing its work with WEACT for Environmental Justice and the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) advancing solar adoption among affordable co-ops and buildings throughout Northern Manhattan. The campaign, which received a grant from the City's Solarize NYC program, is called Solar Uptown Now. Through the group purchasing campaign, the partners hope to make affordable clean energy available to buildings in Harlem and Washington Heights; neighborhoods that have a high density of affordable housing where working families could really benefit from utility bill savings. We are organizing a group of buildings to install solar at the same time and negotiate group discounted pricing from a qualified local solar company.

Through the campaign, any building from Harlem through Inwood is eligible to receive a free solar savings analysis and consultation from Solar One, and a no-obligation bid from the selected solar company. The campaign runs through February 2018, so act now to secure your free technical assistance and group discount!

 

Are you interested in solar for your building? Complete the survey to get started or attend one of our upcoming workshops.

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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.

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