National Grid and United Renewable Energy have completed a community solar project on three acres of underused pasture land in the hamlet of Somerville, NY, with more than half of it already sold to customers. It’s the first community solar project National Grid has developed and connected to its transmission infrastructure in Upstate New York.
"We appreciate the collaborative approach taken by National Grid in New York, specifically the distributed generation team, who supported us while taking our input to develop a repeatable community solar process, something brand new to the company" said William Silva, CEO of United Renewable Energy. "As a market leader in community solar projects, including over 6MW of installed projects, it was wonderful to complete the first National Grid connected community solar project in New York for the benefit of our members."
The project is a way to provide customers cleaner energy options, as well as save money on electricity and distribution costs as if they had installed solar arrays on their roofs. The project is completely supported by local homeowners, low-income homeowners, farms and businesses through a subscription program. Subscribing members receive a percentage of the community project’s total output, which is then credited to their monthly bills to offset the costs of electricity.
"National Grid is pleased to partner with United Renewable Energy on the company's first community solar project in New York," said Melanie Littlejohn, National Grid's New York vice president. "We are excited to play a leadership role in developing innovative approaches that enable New York to achieve its goal for renewable energy. National Grid looks forward to supporting effective solutions for a cleaner, greener energy future that are essential to achieving the company's clean energy goals as well as New York's target of 50 percent renewables by 2030."
That smaller utilities like National Grid are looking to community solar is no surprise. As the solar industry continues to expand beyond rooftop solar arrays, community solar projects are becoming vital to solar market growth. Community solar projects give utilities and developers more flexibility in siting a project offer greater economies of scale to help keep costs low. In fact, the US is expected to install up to 410 megawatts of community solar in 2017, according to GTM Research.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) also is supporting them through the NY-Sun Initiative. Through projects like the National Grid project and a 359-kilowatt community solar project that provides energy to 3 dozen residents of Tompkins, Steuben and Schuyler counties.Tweet