Con Edison is investing $10 million to develop a program to bring the benefits of solar power to low-income customers in Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester County, NY. The utility’s Shared Solar Pilot Program is expected to save each household an estimated $60 per year on power bills.
Initially, the utility will install 3 megawatts of solar to accommodate 800 to 1,600 low-income customers under the pilot program in 2018. Con Edison is currently filing with the New York Public Service Commission to install an additional 11 megawatts of solar that will serve 3,000, to 6,000 low-income customers over the next five-years.
“We thank the state Public Service Commission for its careful review and approval of the first phase of our Shared Solar Pilot Program, which will make renewable energy available to a group of customers who have been largely shut out of the solar market. More customers having access to renewable energy will mean a cleaner environment here in New York City and Westchester County,” said Matthew Ketschke, Con Edison’s vice president of distributed resource integration.
Customers who benefit from the Shared Solar Pilot Program also have the opportunity to participate in energy efficiency programs. The utility is offering free LED light bulbs, $185 rebates on Wi-FI enabled smart thermostats, $25 reimbursement for smart air conditioning controls and up to $600 off ductless heating and air conditioning systems, reducing customer’s costs by up to 30 percent annually, according to the company.
The pilot program will quickly expand Con Edison’s solar capacity and increase the amount of customers eligible for low-income assistance on monthly power bills. The utility currently has approximately 10,000 solar customers, out of which only 200 participate in the utility’s low income solar programs. The upfront costs of installing solar arrays, acquiring financing and renting homes or living in multi-family buildings are defining barriers to low-income customers benefiting from solar.
Utilities, nonprofit organizations and local governments have been working together to provide affordable solar generated electricity directly to low-income customers in New York. For instance. Affordable Solar New York is providing reduced-cost solar installations with no-money down financing to the Housing Development Fund Corporations and affordable housing providers throughout New York City. The nonprofit’s first project, installed in early 2017, provides more than 80 percent of the electricity needed to power lighting in common areas at Nazareth Housing in the Lower East Side. The project is expected to save the housing complex 30 percent of its total energy costs over the next 25-years.Tweet