Rocky Mountain Institute to arrange 16 MW of community solar in New York


Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) was advocating for the transition to renewable energy decades before the dramatic growth of solar and wind. As articulated by visionary founder Amory Lovins, RMI promoted technologies that took up “soft energy paths” – energy efficiency and renewable energy – to meet energy demand beginning in the 1970s.

The organization has taken another step in its involvement in renewable energy through its SHINE program, which develops community solar projects. Under community solar programs individuals and families buy shares in centrally located utility-scale solar projects to meet their electricity needs.

Last Friday, RMI announced that it has opened a request for proposals (RFP) with local organization ROCSPOT, for companies to build and finance community solar projects on nine sites in Rochester, New York. These sites have the potential to host 16 MW of solar PV, and should bidders have other viable sites in the area, RMI will accept bids for these.

RMI notes that this will be one of the first community solar projects in the United States to be located in the community, versus a remote location. It also says that the projects have been designed to reduce costs and provide access to low- and middle-income households. The city of Rochester is involved in the program, and will consider purchasing the output of up to 7 MW of these projects.

RMI and ROCSPOT have sent out separate RFPs for companies to build and finance the projects. Companies must declare their intent to participate by August 12, and proposals are due by September 19. Bids will be evaluated by October 7.

RMI expects the installations to be complete in March 2018.

ROCSPOT is supporting pre-development activities, the RFP process and ongoing operations on behalf of the residents of Rochester, as part of the organization’s goal to offer solar energy to all Rochester residents by 2025.

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