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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021




Georgetown Mews Solar Project Generating Big Savings

Kathryn Farrell in Green Ideas on March 31, 2020

Kew Gardens Hills, Queens

Solar energy, co-op board, NYSERDA, reserve fund, Georgetown Mews.

The solar panels atop the sprawling Georgetown Mews co-op in Queens.

March 31, 2020

Mary Fisher, longtime president at the massive Georgetown Mews co-op in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, helped the complex embark on its solar journey more than five years ago. After numerous setbacks, the array is now up and running at the sprawling 60-acre, 32-building, 930-unit complex. In its first year, the system’s total credits from Con Edison totaled an eye-popping $385,000.

Fisher offers advice to boards considering solar energy: “Make sure the payoff – when Con Ed will reimburse you – is a decent amount. Do due diligence on your installer. If you can buy [the solar panels] outright, it's better to buy them than to lease them. I think that's more lucrative.”

She adds: “We made a resolution at a board meeting to put all [our savings] in a separate account for the reserve fund. I was stopped by a shareholder because we just did a 4 percent maintenance increase, and this guy said, ‘But didn't you save with solar?’ What the solar will do is offset other expenses. This is the first time we went for a 4 percent maintenance increase, but by the same token, we will be undertaking a major project in the spring. We're doing asbestos removal.”

The Georgetown Mews project cost $3 million, which the board defrayed by getting $2 million in rebates and tax credits. “So the co-op put out $1 million,” Fisher says. “We paid for the panels up front, and we will recoup the million dollars that came out of our expenses in four years."

After that, the board will make money every minute the sun shines.

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