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 residents in NYC, Westchester and the Hudson Valley 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 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. The program is set to launch officially this fall, but people can apply for it now. 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!

 

The goal: in 2018, 100 Ulster County businesses, organizations, or municipalities will complete an energy retrofit, install solar or other renewable energy, or implement another action that will both save money and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Dreaming Green”
Flanked by the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River, Ulster County is famous for its beautiful outdoor landscapes and increasingly, as a leader in sustainability. Featured prominently in “Dreaming Green,” a special supplement in National Geographic, showcasing the County’s environmental efforts ranging from its extensive network of rail trails and electric vehicle charging stations, local agricultural projects, to procuring 100% of its electricity from renewable energy credits. Recently, the County turned on its new utility scale solar project sited on an old landfill. Under the leadership of County Executive Mike Hein, with the help of his dedicated staff including the Department of the Environment coordinator, Amanda LaValle, Ulster County is showing that sustainability goes hand in hand with economic development.

Now, with the Green Business Challenge (GBC), Ulster County will engage even more people to take action and address the climate crisis while investing in the local, green economy. The GBC is initiated by the Ulster Climate Smart Committee and spearheaded by its chair, Manna Jo Greene, an Ulster County legislator and longtime environmental leader in the Hudson Valley. Other members include the Climate Smart Committee, a team of volunteer GBC Ambassadors and local experts, with the support of the Ulster County Department of the Environment and the Office of Economic Development.

The purpose of the Ulster County Green Business Challenge is to help Ulster County businesses, organizations and municipalities reduce greenhouse gas emission, mitigate climate change, and in most cases, reap considerable savings doing so. Also of paramount importance is supporting local green building contractors, renewable energy providers and other businesses that implement sustainability practices.

New Yorkers for Clean Power is a proud partner of the Green Business Challenge and hosts GBC steering committee meetings at our Kingston storefront. Ultimately, we hope that this pilot project can serve as a model for other counties across New York State. Please contact betta@nyforcleanpower.org if you’re interested in starting a Green Business Challenge in your community!

For more on the Ulster County Green Business Challenge, visit
http://ulstercountyny.gov/environment/green-business-challenge

Watch this short video featuring the father and son who are working hard to make Bread Alone Bakery a thriving, green business!

Green Business Challenge Actions

Actions that businesses can take to become an Ulster County Green Business Leader:

1)    Energy audit: Undertaking an energy audit is usually the first step because that will help GBC participants to understand and prioritize the most effective actions to take, however the audit must be followed by one or more of the following actions:

2)    Energy retrofit: Undertake an energy retrofit, which can include: Air-sealing and insulation; Installing ground-source (geothermal) or air-source heat pump for heating and cooling; switching to LED lighting: interior, exterior or municipal street lighting

3)     Install a solar array or other renewable energy system to generate your own power: Wind or small, low-impact hydroelectric would also qualify.

4)    Purchase 100% renewable energy from a LOCAL source of renewable energy, such as a Community Solar Project or hydroelectric facility.

5)    Purchase an electric vehicle or install one or more electric vehicle charging stations. Switching to EV fleets is a great way to improve transportation, especially if combined with renewable energy generation

6)    Food waste reuse or composting: Restaurants and other food waste generators implement food waste reuse with Food Bank of the Hudson Valley and/or composting via local haulers who will take it to the UCRRA or other composting facilities.

7)    Other actions: Significantly reducing single use plastic and host of other actions that reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, or otherwise addresses climate change are welcome.

 

Kicking off the Green Business Challenge with Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and allies!

Learn More & Register

Top photo: Front row (From Left):  Ron Leonard, Climate Smart Community Member; Betta Broad, Outreach Director, New Yorkers for Clean Power; Amanda LaValle, Coordinator, Ulster County Department of the Environment; County Executive Mike Hein; Ulster County Legislator Manna Jo Greene; Kale Kaposhilin, Co-Founder, Tech Meet-up and MoonFarmer. Back row: Nels Leader, Vice-President, Bread Alone Bakery; Doug Comeau, Director of Engineering, Monhonk Mountian House; Bob Ryan, President of Ryan & Ryan Insurance Brokers, Inc.; Tom Holsapple, CEO, Frost Valley YMCA; Jeff Domasnski, Senior Manager, Energy & Sustainability Group at IBTS – Institute for Building Technology and Safety; Lisa Mitten, Campus Sustainability Coordinator, SUNY New Paltz.