Solar power has become a lot more popular and affordable, however, renters and those who live in apartment buildings may have been feeling a bit left out. Until now, that is! Community solar projects are a new way for New Yorkers to buy renewable electricity — to choose energy that’s clean, plus save some green! Whether installing solar panels on one’s home or signing up for a community solar project, solar saves money! Instead of relying on dirty energy, residents can sign up for free to acquire the electrical output from a local solar project that is fed into the local power grid and credited directly to their monthly utility bill. It’s easy, saves money, and supports local clean energy development.

New Yorkers for Clean Power (NYCP) recently partnered with PowerMarket to help Central Hudson customers choose from a variety of renewable energy projects. In Westchester, PowerMarket launched ConEd’s first Community Solar Project: the Hawthorne Solar Warehouse. 25 households receive 100% of their electricity from clean solar power and the average household saved $255 in the first year, or about 10% on their electricity bills. Founded in 2016 and based out of Brooklyn, PowerMarket makes a wonderful point —  “Communities are becoming increasingly focused on local products. We now get our food, and beer locally. Why not electricity?” Sign up here if you’re a Central Hudson customer and here if you’re a National Grid customer and start saving money while supporting local, clean energy! If you live in another region of NYS, check out NYSERDA’s new tool to find a community solar project near you.

Something important to keep in mind with community solar projects is that they are not the same as Energy Service Companies/Suppliers (ESCOs) out there in the market. ESCOs can cost more than standard electric rates and are typically the go-between for residents and renewable energy projects in other states, whereas community renewable projects allow you to subscribe to local clean energy providers for a discount on your current electricity rate.

As we turn our back on fossil fuels in the vital shift to a renewable energy economy, it’s important that the transition is inclusive. NYCP is excited for the launch of a new state initiative to make community solar accessible to more New Yorkers. “Solar for All” is a NYSERDA program that’s specifically geared towards eligible low-income customers; the income limits for participants is  $27,816 for a household of 1 person, $36,372 for 2 people, $53,484 for 4 people, and so on. With Solar for All, there’s no cost at all for participation (there are no subscription fees or additional bills- a feature which can be appealing for those overwhelmed in the juggling act to pay bills on time). According to NYSERDA’s Elizabeth Tremblay, “customers will receive a no-cost subscription that will provide them approximately $5-$15 of savings off their monthly electric bill.”  This program is a great step in the right direction, towards a clean energy economy that benefits everyone. Here’s to all New Yorkers having the chance to think globally, act locally, decrease their carbon footprint & save some dough in the process!

For more information and resources, visit our Solar Power page.