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Community Solar, an Alternative Energy Win-Win
Patrick Sisson reports that New York City is seeing a crop of new community solar projects providing cheaper energy to more people. He describes how the Altus Bronx Community Solar Farm works:
Power generation is centralized on the rooftop of this self-storage company, which gets paid for hosting the panels. But 150 New Yorkers who subscribe to the program benefit from the power generated here—all without upfront costs or equipment installation—and see a 5 to 10 percent discount on their electricity bills.
Residents, particularly renters, and small business owners can take advantage of lower energy costs, and the programs offer building owners an additional income stream. Cities, notes Sisson, are good locations for community solar because they have lots of rooftops and many potential customers.
State legislation in 2015 brought community solar to New York, but recent state regulatory changes have made the process much less onerous. The projects are more feasible now that larger installations are allowed, small businesses can become subscribers, and developers have more incentives to put in solar infrastructure.
"In addition, combined with the state’s push to develop energy storage capacity, new community solar can provide an economic benefit by leveraging private capital, creating jobs, and lowering rates, according to David Sandbank, Director of Distributed Energy Resources at [the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority], all while creating a smarter, more resilient grid," writes Sisson.