New York announces free community solar for 10,000 low-income residents

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In the latest development under New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY-Sun program, eight community solar projects across the state have been awarded contracts to provide a total of 9 MW of free access to community solar to low-income residents of their areas, as part of a project dubbed “Solar for All.”

The project’s first round will serve roughly 7,000 New Yorkers within NYSEG, National Grid, Central Hudson, and Orange & Rockland’s service areas. The participating towns are Crawford, Grand Island, Johnstown, Mooers, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Seneca and Thompson.

Residents served will be not only those who would not have been able to afford the upfront cost of a home solar installation or the participation fees of joining a community projects, but also residents who may not have ideal conditions to install solar panels on their homes. This effect is threefold, providing access to those who regularly could not afford it, supplying the grid with clean, renewable energy and lowering the overall electric bills of participants, who will still receive renewable energy credits. A resident’s eligibility to participate in “Solar for All” is determined by their location, household income, and annual electric usage.

“Today, under the forward-thinking leadership of Governor Cuomo, solar energy is growing faster than ever before, and it is accessible for more New York homeowners and renters than ever before,” said President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Alicia Barton.

“NYSERDA is proud to be advancing the Solar for All program to make sure that our most vulnerable residents have increasing access renewable energy while supporting the Governor’s commitment to lowering energy costs for New York families.”

New York is currently seeing the onset of rapid community solar development. Just over a month ago, Nexamp announced the completion of a 7.5 MW project in Newfield, while officials in the town of Vernon are heard proposals for their own community solar project. These developments also move New York closer and closer to Gov. Cuomo’s 50% by 2030 renewable energy target, which was established in 2014.

The program is also a facet of New York’s contribution to the U.S. Climate Alliance, a teaming up of of 16 states and Puerto Rico with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pursuing aggressive, state-level climate actions. The coalition was founded in light of the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords, with a specific focus on creating an energy grid that is reliable, even during times of severe weather events.

In addition to providing solar to low-income residents, individual projects are offering community benefits, such as donations to local organizations serving families in need, educational programs for local schools, and committing additional project capacity to subscriptions for low-to-moderate income households. The second phase of the project, which will increase the areas served and bring the served populace to 10,000 individuals will be launched in 2019.

Residents can sign up to participate or receive additional information on the program at www.nyserda.ny.gov/solarforall/.