Community choice solar programs save New Yorkers $7 million in seven months


In 2021, Joule Community Power launched its community choice aggregation programs in thirteen New York municipalities. In the program, each municipality has its electricity supply contracts negotiated through Joule, with the option to have 100% renewable energy as its default energy source.

Later in the year, Joule launched the country’s first community choice (opt-out) solar program in the villages of Brockport and Lima, NY, signing up each village’s entire population under the program to leveraging the collective buying power at a scale large enough to secure better terms through a single competitive bidding process with solar providers.

The two intertwined programs allow the state to make significant progress on its renewable energy goals, keep its solar development pipeline robust, and ensure affordable electricity is available to as many New Yorkers as possible. Residents and businesses are also free to opt-out of the program at any time and receive their electricity from their utility’s existing generation portfolio.

In a program update, Joule estimates that its electricity supply customers saved $7 million from July 2021 through February 2022, with $3.4 million in savings accruing in February alone from participants in the Central Hudson utility zone due to the utility’s expected 46% rate hike for electricity. In Rockland Country, Joule’s program participants saved more than $2 million through January 2022 since the program’s November 2021 launch.

Beyond the bill savings for participants, the programs has helped to avoid more than 650,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions since July 2019, the equivalent of the amount of carbon sequestered by 825,000 acres of forest in one year.

As of the end of 2021, Joule’s community choice aggregation programs have made available clean energy at fixed, competitive rates to 800,000 New Yorkers in 44 municipalities across the state, while more than 3,500 customers have chosen to opt-in to community solar programs.

These 3,500 customers include the town of Southampton which is set to be the first municipal community solar project to be fully-subscribed through the opt-out CCA program. Kearsarge Energy Limited Partnership will now build the solar project on a municipally-owned brownfield site, and the town will automatically distribute all solar credits generated to low- to moderate-income residents, delivering guaranteed electricity bill savings to those who stand to benefit most.

Joule shares that in 2022, the two programs are set to launch for more than 56,000 customers across 15 New York communities: Black Brook, Canton, Gardiner, Geneva, Henrietta, Highland Falls, Highlands, Honeoye Falls, Nelsonville, Rhinebeck, Roseboom, Saugerties, Southampton, Suffern, Waddington, and West Haverstraw.

In 2020, New York added 549MW of community solar capacity according to NYSERDA, leading the nation. More than 90% of the state’s 2.7GW pipeline of projects under development that have been awarded NY-Sun incentives, and are expected to come online in the next two years, are community solar, comprising more than 800 projects.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the next five years will see the US community solar market add more than 4GW of total capacity.

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