Shared Solar Pilot Program
By George Harvey
Last October, New York utility, Consolidated Edison (Con Ed), made public the specifics of a plan to get electricity generated from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to its low-income customers. The latest news on this is that the pilot program has been approved by the New York Public Service Commission (PSC).
Most low-income consumers have had little access to PVs because they nearly always rent and do not have property on which to put PV systems. Under Con Ed’s proposal, some low-income customers will be able to use solar panels installed on Con Ed’s property and buildings. The specific customers in the program will be chosen by lottery for a program, Shared Solar Pilot. The pilot program will be limited to three megawatts of capacity, which will supply power to between 800 and 1,600 customers. Con Ed said that it expects each customer to save about $5 per month on the program.
If the pilot program is successful, the PSC will allow Con Ed to provide eight additional megawatts, supplying up to 6,000 low-income customer. The PVs would still be sited on Con Ed’s buildings and land.
Con Ed pointed out that when low-income people have access to PV systems, everyone benefits. The systems will increase public awareness of solar power specifically and renewable energy in general. They will also give people reasons to consider how they use energy, promoting energy efficiency.
Con Ed intends intends to promote other efficiency and renewable programs, making both itself and the state of New York leaders in renewable energy and sustainable living.