Emily Myers in Green Ideas
The board of 75 Wall St., a 346-unit condo in Manhattan’s Financial District, is reaping big savings in energy costs — and doing its share to help New York cut carbon emissions — by signing up for a unique subscription program offered through Con Edison. Community Distributed Energy Generation (CDG) allows buildings to receive monthly credits from electricity generated by clean-energy facilities like solar farms and fuel-cell facilities developed by private energy companies. Electricity produced through these programs is added to the grid and the credit the energy producers receive from Con Edison is then transferred to subscribers.
The program allows buildings to take advantage of local clean energy production, which spares them from the high costs of installing and maintaining new technology at their buildings. The 75 Wall St. condo receives its clean energy from Bloom Energy, a fuel-cell facility in Staten Island. “Instead of having to invest in some of the infrastructure, we are able to rely and work with a community to come up with the outcome,” says board president Dhwani Srivastava. And the sign-up process is simple; it can be done online in just a few minutes.
FirstService Energy (FSE), an energy advisory affiliate of the property management firm FirstService Residential, administers the program for 75 Wall St. “The savings depend on what each of the producers can afford to give,” says Kelly Dougherty, the president at FSE. However, thanks to the large number of buildings under its management and its ability to source multiple subscribers for CDG programs, FSE has been able to negotiate a higher percentage of savings for clients.
“FirstService Energy has been great about communicating the benefits, they've articulated what it can mean for the building, and they’ve delivered on that,” Srivastava says. The benefits are primarily financial, but Dougherty points out the local production also allows less line-loss or wasted energy, which happens during transmission and distribution. “This reduces carbon emissions from the waste of that electricity,” she adds.
The subscription at 75 Wall St. began a year ago, and Srivastava says the building saw positive returns almost immediately. “When we decided to opt in, it supported the goals of delivering value and keeping up with the times on sustainability,” she says. A CDG subscription can’t be used as a tool for buildings to meet Local Law 97 requirements, but FSE encourages clients to apply the savings they receive to any retro-commissioning projects to help them meet their carbon emission reduction goals.
Thanks to CDG, the condo is saving $50,000 a year. Monthly electricity bills at 75 Wall St. average $50,000, which means the program essentially gives the building a month of free electricity each year. “Being able to get any kind of savings when it comes to electricity is a win for our 300 plus unit-owners,” says Dylan Cecchini, FirstService Residential’s general manager of the building. He notes electricity and insurance are the most expensive items on the budget for most buildings.
The downside for buildings wanting to take advantage of the program is that most of the available subscriptions have been taken, leaving only waitlisted spots. NYSERDA says there is no regulatory cap on the amount of CDG projects that can be built, but developing the projects takes time and the demand for subscriptions downstate currently exceeds the amount of available projects. Building eligibility is driven by developers meeting NYSERDA requirements.
Engage, enrage, ask questions and give answers with your community of board members. Submit your questions and comments here!
Co-op and condo board business broken down into bite-sized bits - 2 stories each week. Read now on all digital devices.