New York utility uses its own buildings to power low-income shared solar

Low-income customers in New York City and nearby areas will have access to solar starting in 2018, now that a plan has been approved for Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) to put solar panels on its buildings and properties throughout the city.

The initial installations, totaling 3 MW, will be installed on properties including in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. Con Ed’s pilot program will serve between 800 and 1,600 customers.

“We thank the state Public Service Commission for its careful review and approval of the first phase of our Shared Solar Pilot Program, which will make renewable energy available to a group of customers who have been largely shut out of the solar market,” said Matthew Ketschke, Con Edison’s vice president, distributed resource integration. “More customers having access to renewable energy will mean a cleaner environment here in New York City and Westchester County.”

Con Ed will not do the installations themselves, instead partnering with developers chosen through a competitive bidding process. It will also reach out to community organizations to publicize the new program, which will cost low-income customers nothing to join. The utility estimates residents enrolled in the program could save at least $60 per year.

If the first stage is successful, Con Ed told the Public Utilities Commission that it plans to build 11 MW over the next five years to serve between 3,000 and 6,000 residential customers currently enrolled in its low-income bill assistance program.

The project is consistent with the state’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) initiative, which aims to give customers more access to distributed generation and reduce carbon emissions. Con Edison estimates the cost of the first phase of the program to be about $10 million.

The utility already has a 40 kW PV system on its headquarters in Manhattan, which helps to power the building.