New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Community Solar is Here

Want to save 5 to 10 percent on your Con Edison bill every month – without a complicated, expensive energy-efficiency project? It’s easy.

Subscribers to the city’s first community-solar array, in Brooklyn’s East New York, began seeing savings on their electricity bills this past summer. Daroga Power, the company that owns and installed the 3,000 solar panels on two East New York warehouse roofs, is now pushing into new neighborhoods.

“We have three more projects under construction: in East New York, in Maspeth, Queens, and in the Bronx,” says David Matt, president of Daroga Power. “Over the next three years our goal is to produce 20 megawatts – that’s three million square feet of solar panels that would [reduce the electric bills of] about 5,000 customers.” The company hopes to have the three additional arrays up by the end of the year, but given construction requirements and Con Edison restrictions, it may not happen until early 2019.

The big appeal, for landlords of rental buildings and for co-op and condo boards on tight budgets, is that the building owner doesn’t have to put up any money. Daroga Power or another community-solar developer negotiates a long-term roof lease, then buys and installs the solar panels. “We build it with our capital,” says Matt, “and Con Edison gets all the electricity, which is fed back into the grid. Instead of giving us money, Con Edison gives us a credit. We transfer that credit to our customers, and they will then pay us back a portion of that credit.”

Subscribers to a community-solar project can live anywhere in the five boroughs, regardless of where the solar panels are located. They wind up saving 5 to 10 percent each month on their Con Ed bill. That might not seem significant, but the customer is participating in a program that helps protect the environment – at no cost to the consumer or the building owner.

“It’s not a huge saving, but it’s also not a huge commitment,” says Anika Wistar-Jones, the affordable solar program manager at the nonprofit Solar One, which is working with Daroga Power on its expanding network. “Other companies often demand a 20-year contract. Daroga only has a 12-month contract, and you can cancel any time without a penalty. Daroga also doesn’t demand a high credit score. That opens the door for a lot of people who would otherwise not have access to solar. There is just no downside for the consumer.”

To join, go to reserve a spot. “As soon as they fill out the form, they get essentially ‘approved’ through the utility,” says Matt. “Essentially, we have a 36-hour window from when they open the website to us working with Con Edison to see how much power they use, so we can then figure out how much to allocate them from the system. Once they’re allocated, they’re live and good to go.” All without breaking a sweat.

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