Con Edison is proposing placing solar panels on the roofs of New York City Housing Authority developments as part of its effort to make renewable energy available to low- and moderate-income customers.
The demonstration project by the energy company and its partners is called “Community Power” and would give 350 NYCHA households access to solar energy for a discounted price. Tenants could save an estimated $78 a year on their energy bills, and up to 30 NYCHA residents will receive paid job training and then be hired to install the panels.
The proposed 1-megawatt solar initiative will avoid the emission of more than 1.7 million pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
“The NYCHA tenants who participate will get the benefits of renewable energy without the upfront costs that can make solar energy challenging to afford,” said Margarett Jolly, director of Demonstration Projects for Con Edison. “We want all our customers to have access to solar energy, energy efficiency and other products and services that technology is making possible.”
“Community Power” represents a new business model for bringing self-sustaining community distributed generation to low- and moderate-income Con Edison customers.
“Solar One facilitates solar projects and provides job training in NYC’s underserved communities to advance a clean energy economy that benefits all New Yorkers,” said Noah Ginsburg, director of the Here Comes Solar program at non-profit Solar One, Con Edison’s lead partner on the project. “We are pleased to partner with Con Edison to implement ‘Community Power,’ which will demonstrate how low-income New Yorkers can play a central role in our transition to renewable power.”
“This partnership helps ensure that NYCHA residents can both participate in the green jobs economy and have access to low-cost solar power,” said NYCHA executive VP for community engagement and partnerships Sideya Sherman. “We thank Con Edison and Solar One for keeping public housing residents at the heart of their green energy opportunities.”
Other partners have integral roles. WE ACT for Environmental Justice will help enroll customers, while Green City Force will recruit NYCHA residents for paid solar installer apprenticeships. Co-op Power will finance, own and operate the solar projects, and Resonant Energy will support project development.
In “Community Power,” direct-metered Con Edison customers living in NYCHA buildings who sign up and are selected will get a share of solar energy produced in their community and see a discount of up to15 percent on their normal energy cost.
The customers will pay a subscription fee and receive a discount–or credit–on their monthly bill, as long as they continue to pay their monthly subscription fee. The customer will always receive a discount or net benefit because the subscription price the customer pays will be less than the full dollar value of the solar energy they receive.
Though the demonstration project will last three years, participating households will save money for the life of the panels – which is expected to be about 25 years.
“Community Power” includes a unique cooperative ownership model for the solar panels. In addition to utility bill savings, “Community Power” subscribers will be members of Co-op Power, meaning they will have indirect ownership of the panels through their membership.
The project follows the Community Distributed Generation concept, under which a third party owns solar panels and subscribers–who do not necessarily live in the buildings with the panels–get the energy. This model makes it possible for renters in multi-family buildings to get solar energy, even though they do not own or control their roofs.
“Community Power,” is the second initiative by Con Edison to make solar energy available to low-income customers. In another project, the company will place panels on buildings it owns and make the power available to low-income customers, initially providing 3 megawatts to up to 1,600 customers.
News item from Con Edison