Part of Joule’s Finger Lakes Community Choice program, the opt-out community solar program will be rolled out to over 3,800 households across the two upstate New York municipalities. Expected to launch this year, this program will be the first opt-out community solar program in the U.S.
Generate teamed up with 38 Degrees North to acquire the solar projects in the area that will provide residents 17 million kWh of solar power for 25 years. Joule, the program administrator, has been supporting the development of a community choice program in the villages since early 2017, including the provision of public outreach and public education on the opportunities for both electricity supply and community solar. Joule is the only program administrator with approval from the state to integrate community solar and electricity supply in a community choice offering.
The opt-out community-level agreement ensures equal access to the benefits of community distributed generation from renewable sources – including electricity bill savings made possible by New York’s incentives for renewable energy generation. The community solar program and the signing of the tri-party agreements give participants a guaranteed 10% savings on solar credits without requiring them to sign an individual contract, undergo a credit check, pay a second bill for solar or install solar panels on their home or property.
“Joule and the Villages of Brockport and Lima have developed a market structure that will provide significant savings to the whole community,” says Chris Bailey, managing partner at 38 Degrees North. “We are proud to have partnered with Joule and Generate to provide innovative financing solutions that will accelerate the growth of community choice aggregation throughout New York.”
Re-localizing energy generation helps build local wealth. Solar projects distribute benefits back to individual households in the form of reliable savings, but also to communities in the form of job creation and community revenue. Jobs are created in the construction, operation and management of the solar projects that are located in close proximity to the communities they serve. Local businesses will benefit from more and steady income flowing into the community. The projects themselves will also contribute to local revenues.
Opt-out community solar effectively guarantees the solar developer all the generated electricity output will be purchased without any need to solicit interest or market to each potential individual customer. The municipal-level agreement essentially ensures that subscribers have been secured in advance, thereby fostering an environment that allows for at-scale development of solar projects throughout the state.
National Grid will continue to deliver electricity to all residents and remains responsible for repairs, maintenance and service. Residents can opt-out of the program at any time with no penalty but would lose the guaranteed 10% price reductions on the solar bill credits that lower their annual electricity costs.