By Sammy Chu, CEO, Edgewise Energy
Solar power is a proven clean alternative energy source for lowering commercial and residential energy costs across Long Island and beyond. According to a recent report by Solar Energy Industry Association, New York State ranks 11th among all states for photovoltaic (PV) or electrical-energy producing solar installations. The same report points out that even with over 100,000 installations statewide, New York obtains less than 2 percent of its electricity from solar. Clearly, there is much more that can be achieved.
Changes in the Commercial Long Island Solar Market
After years of solid growth, earlier this year LIPA decided to make significant changes to the way that commercial solar power is valued. These changes have caused commercial property owners to tap the brakes on solar installations. Net metering, which had enabled properties to feed power back to the grid and draw down that surplus to obtain full credit, has ended on Long Island for commercial demand customers. The Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) is a complex metric that New York State uses to replace net metering for commercial energy resources across the grid and it is not always a win for every building. This added complexity has moved many commercial solar site owners, whose properties previously would have been great net metering candidates, to consider a newer option in the market – community solar hosting.
What is Long Island Community Solar?
Community Distributed Generation is a relatively new tariff, that is most commonly referred to as Community Solar. Community Solar provides qualified Long Island commercial and non-profit properties a way to host a solar panel array that benefits other properties in their community without installing additional panels on their own buildings or homes. For example, a building owner in the Hauppauge Industrial Park could install a solar photovoltaic system that feeds directly into the grid and subscribe that production to homes in the LIPA/PSEG-LI billing territory.
The hosting property, or generator, benefits from recurring revenue resulting from subscriber payments. Subscribers benefit by gaining access to electricity produced by solar power, typically at a reduced cost, without having to install anything at their own homes. One of the original intents of the community solar concept was to provide access to those who wanted to procure clean energy but were limited in their ability to do so because they were renters or their homes weren’t ideally sited.
How Community Solar Works (NYS video)
Community Solar Benefits for Your Specific Organization
Depending on your property type, there may be several benefits that accrue to the property, tenants and community through a Community Solar project.
- Multi-Tenant Buildings – Community Solar can be a perfect fit for roofs of tenant spaces where the tenant pays the electric bills.
- Business Property Owners – Low consumption businesses can be good candidates for Community Solar by offering project energy subscriptions as an employee benefit that lowers energy costs for everyone.
- Non-profit Properties – Non-profits can be a good fit for Community Solar by providing green energy to their communities, often in support of their documented mission statements.
- Open Space Property Owners – Properties that have large open and unoccupied spaces, like parking lots and parking garages, can also be a good fit for Community Solar to use the space to best advantage.