New York Encourages Pairing of Community Microgrids and Community Solar

New York officials are encouraging cities and towns that are planning community microgrids to couple them with community solar or ‘shared renewables.’

The NY Prize, a competition offering $40 million in state community microgrid funds, Wednesday issued a notice urging prize competitors to also consider the state’s community solar programs.

Community solar opens up opportunities for those who cannot install solar panels on their property — such as apartment dwellers or those with shaded roofs.

Community microgrids and community solar are viewed as natural brethren, given that both are local energy alternatives with communal benefits. Some companies are forming a new business model around the idea of bringing community solar to microgrids.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is encouraging community solar in a couple of different ways.

The authority offers a shared renewables program for renters, homeowners, low-income residents, schools, and businesses. The groups can join together in creating a shared solar installation — possibly on a community building or public property. Other kinds of renewable energy projects — such as wind — also can apply.  Community members who participate receive credits on their utility bills for their participation.

The shared renewables program is geared toward low-income customers who are in constrained areas of the power grid that would benefit most from local energy.

NYSERDA also is now accepting applications for related outreach programs aimed at encouraging large swaths of community members to pursue solar. These ‘Solarize’ campaigns will launch in spring 2016. The authority is providing up to $5,000 for campaign expenses. For this year, 30 Solarize campaigns are already underway.

Applications to participate in the second round of Community Solar NY closes November 16, 2015.   Local governments, school districts, and not-for-profit community organizations are eligible to participate. New York is limiting the program to areas with less than 100,000 people. The installation must be grid-tied.

Details and applications are available here.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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