On March 18, 2016, more than 200 solar energy industry professionals, municipal representatives, and community activists gathered at the all-day CNY Community Solar Forum. The event, sponsored by the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board (CNY RPDB), NYS Energy Democracy Alliance, and NYSERDA, provided information regarding community solar development opportunities in New York State.
Over the past several years, community solar has grown quickly into a mainstream movement. In 2015, New York State joined the ranks of more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia to enact policies to support community solar. The state’s new Community Distributed Generation (CDG) policy has unlocked the solar market, providing access to affordable, clean energy to every electricity consumer.
What is Community Solar? Simply put, community solar arrays, sometimes referred to as a shared solar array or solar garden, are centralized solar facilities that provide power to multiple “members” (customers). In New York State, the project must have at least 10 members, and the customers can be individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations or municipalities within the same utility territory and NYISO load zone where the project is located.
Why is Community Solar a “game-changer”? Anyone with an electric bill can participate in community solar – no rooftop is required. A 2015 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that nearly 50% of all the people who’d like to “go solar” are unable to achieve that goal. Rooftop solar requires a roof in great condition, facing the right direction and free of shade. Rooftop solar customers generally must own their property, eliminating all of the apartment dwellers or condo owners who otherwise support solar energy. For the remaining half of solar supporters who say they would choose solar energy but simply cannot, community solar provides the solutions to these problems.
In addition to affording equal access, community solar offers many other benefits including favorable economics through economies of scale, optimal siting, and efficient construction. With a community solar project there are no physical restrictions like roof condition or orientation. The arrays are located in a well sited area, positioned so that the panels have access to the most amount of sunlight possible, built with highest quality equipment and produces the most energy more efficiently.
Visit http://www.solarizecny.org/#!the-forum-/optgv for more information, including the event program. Visit our YouTube page for presentation videos from the event.
Contact Katelyn Kriesel, Solarize CNY Coordinator, for more information at (315)422-8224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.