Power to the People: Community Solar Comes to Croton!

By: Leo Wiegman*

What is Community Solar? Solar for the rest of us.

New York State is a leader in adopting clean energy policy innovations with the most aggressive climate change program in the nation.  It plans to have 6,000 MW of solar power by the year 2025. 

One of the most promising ways to get there is a new program called Community Solar.  For every homeowner who has an adequately sunny roof and is able to invest in his or her own solar system, there are many others who are not able to do so.  Community solar offers anyone without their own solar system to get solar power from a solar system located elsewhere. That solar system is commonly called a solar farm. 

Who can sign up for community solar? 

Image by EnergySage.com

Anyone who pays a bill for an electric account with their local utility, e.g. ConEdison, may subscribe to a local solar farm. Think of it as owning a share in a local community-supported agriculture program, except for electricity. You will have no upfront costs. You will be supporting a local clean energy effort. And you will be save money on your electric supply. 

Community Solar is compatible with both Sustainable Westchester’s Westchester Power Community Choice Aggregation and if you are enrolled with another ESCO. 

Unfortunately, if you already have solar on your property, or if you are a NYSEG customer on budget/level billing, you cannot subscribe to community solar.

How does it work?

NYSERDA explains the simple process in a video in less than two minutes.

When you find a solar farm that you want to belong to, you sign an electric service agreement. Look for a solar farm that offers you no upfront cost, no termination fees and guarantees a discount. A 10% discount is common as is a 60-day notice of termination. For convenience, most solar farms will ask for an authorization to withdraw their bill amount from your bank account in addition to supplying a bill via email. 

When you find a solar farm that you want to belong to, you sign an electric service agreement. Look for a solar farm that offers you a no-penalty withdrawal. A 60-day notice of termination is common. For convenience, most solar farms will ask for an authorization to withdraw their bill amount from your bank account in addition to supplying a bill via email. 

When you sign up, the solar farm will allocate a pro-rated portion of its monthly production to you based on your historic electric use.   

Each month, you will be billed as usual by your utility company.  A new line will appear on your utility bill showing a “renewable energy credit” lowering your bill to the utility. 

The solar farm will bill you separately for 90% of the value of those credits each month, ensuring that you get a 10% discount over what you would have paid the utility.  In short, for every $10 of renewable energy credit on your utility bill, the solar farm will bill you $9.

Is there a local solar farm?

Yes! The newest solar farm is located on the roof of the Village’s newly acquired Public Works facility located at 435 Yorktown Road (Route 129).  The Village will receive lease payments from Ecogy Energy, the solar farm developer for the use of its roof. The Village also received significant roof repairs at no expense to taxpayers as part of the lease agreement. 

The project, Croton Community Solar, placed 765 Hanwha 400 watt solar panels on the 14,000 square foot roof. That is enough solar to power 40 to 50 local homes! This site is currently accepting subscribers from the area on a first come—first served basis. 

 

Construction of Croton's Community Solar

Ecogy hired a local solar contractor, Croton Energy Group, to install the solar farm. A local electrician, Geberth Electric, performed all the electrical work.

For all subscribers who tell Ecogy that they heard about the Croton Community Solar farm from either “Croton100” or “Croton Energy Group,” Ecogy and Croton Energy Group will donate sign up commission to Croton100.org! Everybody wins!

* Leo Wiegman is the President of Croton100 and a Founding Partner in the Croton Energy Group.

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