Community Solar for Landowners

Community Solar for LandownersAccording to the US Department of Energy, roughly 75% of homeowners and businesses can’t go solar. Some of the more popular reasons why so many are barred from harnessing clean and free sunshine is because:

  • Their roofs are too small or facing the wrong direction.
  • Their properties receive too much shading from nearby obstacles.
  • They rent their properties and can’t get the landlord’s permission to go solar.

This trend is especially pronounced in New York – a state with tons of renters, lots of urban areas, and limited rooftop space.

However, this problem represents an extremely lucrative opportunity for landowners throughout New York.

With the right approach, you can:

  • Rent out unused parcels of land for solar development.
  • Receive passive income every month – without lifting a finger.
  • Protect the planet by offsetting CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

And all of this is possible thanks to the rise of community solar.

YSG Community Solar New York: Rent Your Land For Solar from YSG SOLAR – NEW YORK on Vimeo.

What Is Community Solar – and How Does It Work?

With community solar, local homeowners and businesses collectively finance a shared PV installation on your unused land – usually a 2MW system spread across 10+ acres of area.

These are people who want to go solar. But they can’t install panels on their own properties for the reasons listed above.

The clean electricity generated from this shared solar installation goes into the grid in exchange for utility credits. These credits are sold to the community solar stakeholders at discounted rates, meaning they save money. Their clean power investments also help to eliminate pollution by reducing the community’s reliance on electricity generated from fossil fuel sources like oil, natural gas, and coal.

In other words, these community solar customers enjoy the same financial and environmental benefits they would have received if they had installed PV panels on their own properties.

But as the landowner, you also benefit:

  • You receive regular rental payments every month. This is passive and recurring revenue that continues to arrive like clockwork.
  • YSG Solar covers the full cost of installing, servicing, and maintaining the community solar installation. You don’t have to spend a single dime to get started.
  • YSG Solar also takes care of permits, inspections, approvals, and grid-connections. Let us do all the heavy lifting on your behalf.

Does Community Solar Make Sense for You?

If you have unused land, you’re not simply leaving money on the table. You’re actually losing money once you factor in property taxes and general maintenance.

Why not monetize that land instead and do something positive for the environment.

Done correctly, community solar can deliver:

  • More cash in your pocket every month.
  • Cleaner air and water for everyone else.

And with YSG Solar, it costs nothing to get started.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

To learn more about community solar opportunities for landlords in New York, be sure to read this useful guide from the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority.

To discover how YSG Solar can transform your unused land into an income-generating machine, schedule a free appointment with our team today.

New York Launches REV in 2016: Regulatory Reform For Utilities

Recently, The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) announced a plan called Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) to help consumers make better and more informed energy choices, enable the development of new energy products and services, protect the environment and create new jobs and economic opportunity throughout New York State. REV will also overhaul the regulations that govern utility companies,and create and promote new energy markets. According to the PSC,  the initiative seeks to give customers more choice and control over their energy usage for every dollar spent on utility bills, and to promote a private-sector-driven clean energy market. REV is also designed to significantly reduce the amount of money spent on crumbling energy infrastructure.

Increasingly extreme weather events, coupled with excessive environmental issues and rising costs of fossil fuel dependence compelled regulators to adopt this policy. The policy favors small scale energy sources like rooftop solar, residential wind, battery storage, combined heat and power, energy efficiency, demand response, and other decentralized energy resources. A decentralized system based on these resources is generally more efficient and resilient (meaning it can better withstand or recover from extreme weather events and outages).

“To spur the creation of the electric grid of the 21st century, the commission’s initiative will lead to a top-to-bottom restructuring of the state’s energy-efficiency programs to ensure that New Yorkers have access to reliable, clean and competitively priced electric power,” said New York commissioner Audrey Zibelman, a strong proponent of the initiative.

“The end goal of the process will be to give consumers greater freedom to manage their total energy bill,” she said.

YSG Solar’s community solar development aligns with the goals of REV and New York State’s energy plan.

Goals of the REV initiative include reforming  New York State’s energy industry and regulatory practices, promoting energy-efficient  programs and increasing renewable energy resources such as wind and solar. It also aims to promote the use of more distributed energy resources such as microgrids or on-site power supplies and energy storage, encourage customer use of advanced energy management products such as demand response and empower customers by allowing them more choice in how they manage and consume electric energy.

The initiative also ties in with the draft State Energy Plan released the beginning of the year, which calls for more customer choice and private-sector-driven clean energy markets.

How Electric Companies View Community Solar

Community solar is becoming a compelling and rapidly growing industry, thanks to favorable state legislation and substantial interest from utilities. The new industry provides utilities with a role in solar and provides solar ownership options to many who do not otherwise have them.

Utilities are poised to be the biggest contributors to the growth of community solar over the next five years. With close to 50 percent of U.S. households and businesses unable to host rooftop solar systems, community solar is an untapped market for consumers looking for green energy. Solar power is even becoming cheaper than retail electricity in parts of the country.

Community solar allows residential, commercial, nonprofit and municipal consumers to obtain solar power through various forms, including group purchasing of solar equipment, crowd financing, community investment, and donation-based models.

There are various models for community solar projects, but most projects today are utility-sponsored. Utility customers participate by contributing either an up-front payment or an ongoing monthly payment towards the solar project. Customers receive a payment or a credit on their electric bills based on their contribution and how much electricity the community solar project produced.

Third-party market leaders in community solar, such as developers Clean Energy Collective (CEC) and SunShare, use different models to manage community solar projects nationwide. CEC, for example, partners with utilities who have agreed to buy all of the electricity from the solar array through a long-term power purchase agreement. CEC then oversees the projects, partnering with photovoltaic system providers such as First Solar. CEC owns the arrays and manages all operations and maintenance of the systems. It also licenses software for the billing and crediting to customers’ bills.

One additional factor that’s fueling the expansive growth in community solar is an increase in investment from utilities that are developing their own community solar projects. Utilities say community solar makes economic sense, as the price of solar continues to drop and consumer demand for solar increases.

Although each state handles community solar differently, state laws generally mandate that utilities offer customers the option of community solar, with unique definitions of what “community solar” implies. The legislation often puts a cap on the size of the projects—for example, they can’t be larger than one or two megawatts—as well as requirements about how many subscribers a community solar system has to have.

Utilities are searching for a way to keep their customers happy and on the grid, yet still provide them with what many customers are now asking for – green energy. Because there are more utilities involved in community solar developments than rooftop solar projects, there is minimal resistance at the consumer level.

How each solar market is defined, in terms of things like incentives and annual caps on development, are occasional sticking points between solar developers and utilities. Developers, analysts and utilities predict that the pace of community solar will continue to grow in the future as prices of solar decline and more utilities get involved. GTM Research estimates that in 2015 and 2016 the total amount of community solar projects installed will increase by seven-fold.

What to Expect from Community Solar in 2016

Community solar is poised for explosive growth in 2016. Forbes magazine has declared that “next year will be a breakout year” for community solar, and that the alternative energy technology is becoming increasingly more mainstream as new business models make it available to customers who were unable to consider solar in the past.

Community solar projects include neighborhood solar arrays owned or leased by residents without access to traditional solar energy sources.  Thus far these types of residents have been unable to take advantage of lowered electricity bills and federal tax credits. However, in certain locations across the U.S., including NY, communities have come together to fund and build community solar arrays, also knowns as shared solar, or solar ‘farms’. These installations provide renewable energy alternatives to local electric companies, who in turn provide the alternative energy to customers.

Designed for those without rooftop access, these shared solar projects will open up opportunities for some 50 percent of current U.S. households and businesses that are unable to host a photovoltaic system due to site unsuitability, ownership, or multi-unit status, according to a recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory analysis. The analysis found that by bringing shared solar to households and businesses that were previously unable to host on-site PV, shared solar could represent 32 to 49 percent of the distributed solar market in 2020, representing $8.2–$16.3 billion of cumulative investment.

GTM Research has identified community solar as the next largest solar growth market in the United States. Over the next two years, community solar in the U.S. is positioned to see its market size increase sevenfold, Power generated by U.S. community solar projects will grow from an estimated 181.1 megawatts in 2015, to a predicted 465 megawatts in 2016, according to GTM Research.

2016 is on track to be a milestone year for U.S. solar, with more than 10 GW added on annual basis for the first time ever and the number of homeowners with solar installed eclipsing the 1 million mark. 10 gigawatts is not a one-time peak, but more likely a floor, with U.S. solar installations reaching 20 gigawatts per year by 2020.

The federal government showed its enthusiastic support in July 2015 when the Department of Energy launched the National Community Solar Partnership, which promotes solar arrays with shared ownership. The government is interested in promoting shared solar because of the growth opportunity it represents for solar power.

Despite that, only 24 states had at least one shared solar project online at the end of 2014, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, which also said that four states – California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota – were expected to account for more than half of all community solar installations over the next two years.

Solar Panels

HOW DOES COMMUNITY SOLAR WORK?

Did you know you don’t have to put solar panels on your roof to get solar power? You can go solar even if you rent your home, or live in a shady area. Welcome to the age of Community Solar!

What is Community Solar?

Community Solar – sometimes referred to as a solar garden or shared renewable energy plant – is a solar power plant (typically a group of solar power panels, called ‘arrays’) whose electricity is shared by more than one household via a local utility grid.

Subscribers to the YSG’s Community Solar program lease some of the solar panels in the array. Just as if the panels were on their own roofs, subscribers receive a credit on their electric bill for the power the panels produce. Utility customers within the Community Solar service area, including residences, businesses, local governments, non-profits, and faith-based organizations, can all subscribe. It’s almost like subscribing to a CSA, except instead of organic vegetables, you get renewable, green energy!

How Does it Work?

Community Solar arrays are generally built on underutilized land, or might be hosted on a school, library, house of worship, or community center and directly connected to a local utility.

The power produced from your leased solar panels offsets the electricity being consumed in your home. Typically, in the warmer months subscribers will build up credits – those credits are then used in the fall and winter. Your electricity bill will have an area called the ‘the energy bank’ that will show you the credits you have accumulated/used for the month.

And – here’s the icing on the cake – YSG Solar takes care of all the paperwork – you don’t need to fill out any lengthy forms. We’ll even help you determine what tax benefits you may be eligible for.

What About Cost?

Instead of paying a premium for green power, subscribers to YSG’s Community Solar program will pay a lower price for electricity. With no upfront costs whatsoever, you’ll start saving right away, since Community Solar typically costs 20% less than regular electricity. Community Solar energy is clean, and the costs are fixed for up to 20 years, so you don’t ever have to worry about your electricity bill going through the roof next year. Community solar subscribers may even be eligible for NYS tax credits.

What are the Rules?

Participants must reside within the utility’s network area, and their share of power from the project can not exceed their typical electricity usage. If subscribers move out of the utility area, they can cancel or transfer the subscription to the next participant in line. Any energy bill savings earned by households through the community solar farm are not considered income.

How do I Start?

Green energy that’s good for the planet, and great for your wallet? Contact YSG Solar today for your in-house, free personal consultation. We look forward to working with you!

Community Shared Solar

WHAT IS COMMUNITY SHARED SOLAR

Want to produce your own clean, solar energy but don’t have a roof to put panels on? Live in a shady area but would like to reap the benefits of solar power? Concerned about the upfront cost and maintenance of solar panels? Centralized solar power, called Community Shared Solar, is the answer!

Many New Yorkers now have access to solar power even if they don’t have a suitable roof or yard space for traditional solar panels. An innovative model called Community Solar has been helping expand solar access in several states and is now available in New York. YSG Solar is proud to offer Community Solar to our customers. We offer a free, in-person consultation to determine your solar needs.

Communities in other states (notably our neighbors Massachusetts and Vermont), have joined together to reap the environmental and economic benefits of clean, renewable energy through these Community Solar programs. These programs have enabled participants of the community to pool resources and share the costs and benefits of a single, remotely located solar energy installation.

Community Solar utilizes a solar electric array with multiple subscribers connected to the utility grid. The subscribers lease some of the solar panels in the array.  Just as if the panels were on their own roofs, subscribers receive a credit on their electric bill for the power the panels produce. Subscribers can even take their solar power with them if they move to another residence or business within the service area.

When you subscribe to YSG Solar’s Community Solar program, you not only get efficient, long term green energy, you can monitor your your own energy consumption – down to individual outlets – in your own home, for free with YSG’s app, “Power Manager”. What’s to lose? Sign up for your free personal consultation today!