Con Edison proposed its “Shared Solar Pilot Program” to install up to 11 megawatts of solar power over 5 years on more than 40 of its buildings' rooftops in New York City and Westchester County. The solar arrays will provide electricity for 3,000 to 6,000 customers who are part of its low-income bill assistance program. Designed to help further New York state’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), Con Edison’s solar integration plan could save low-income customers up to $60 per year on electricity costs.
With an estimated cost of $33 million, Con Edison will hold a competitive bidding process to pick contractors to construct and design the solar arrays. Under the proposed pilot plan the company will also work with community organizations to promote the program to eligible customers.
"We are doing our part to help make sure that all our customers, regardless of income level, have access to clean, renewable energy," said Matthew Ketschke, vice president of Distributed Resource Integration for Con Edison. "We're committing to put solar panels on our warehouses, substations, office buildings, garages and other properties to expand access.”
Participants in the Shared Solar Pilot Program will not only save money on their electricity bill every month but will have the opportunity to access additional products and services that will assist them in managing their overall power consumption every month.
The development and integration of urban residential rooftop solar presents utility companies and customers many obstacles. Out of more than 10,000 Con Edison customers who already have solar panels installed on their rooftops, only 200 participate in the low-income program. Many customers in NYC are not only renters but often lack the upfront capital needed to invest in a solar array.
Community-based solar sharing programs are essential in growing renewable energy resources in urban areas around the US. For instance, in Los Angeles, a team of volunteers working with GRID Alternatives chapter, GRID LA, is installing roughly 1.6 megawatts of solar panels across the homes of 500 low-income families. The program is not only giving those families the benefits of lower electric costs thanks to solar power but is providing training and creating new jobs for 220 workers in the solar industry.
Similarly, Denver-based Mercy Housing and Promise Energy, Inc. have also established a solar installation program that will provide more than 1,000 units of affordable housing with 3 megawatts of power under a HUD Technical Assistance grant. That project is financed under a power purchase agreement (PPA) that defrays the upfront costs of installation while providing low-income residents with lower-cost and clean energy options.Tweet