1 Sep 2021
Wednesday, the New York Finger Lakes villages in the region of Brockport and Lima officially launched what is being hailed as the first opt-out community choice solar program in United States. The program is part of an initiative known as Finger Lakes Community Choice program developed by Power of the Joule community, an energy supplier specializing in aggregation of community choices: that is to say energy service contracts concluded at a more localized level by aggregating the service for small municipalities.
The opt-out solar offer has been made available to more than 3,800 households and small businesses in the two villages, and Joule says it will reduce residents’ electricity bills by up to 10% over the next 25 coming years.
Brockport and Lima partnered with six local community solar farms, which are expected to generate a total of 28 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. As each farm begins to generate electricity, residents who subscribe to that farm will begin to receive savings. The solar parks are expected to start operating in October 2021 – all residents will be covered by spring 2022.
All eligible residents are automatically enrolled in the program without having to sign a contract, undergo credit screening or have solar panels installed in their homes. If a resident wishes to opt-out of the program, he is free to do so at any time without penalty.
Bring solar to the LMI segment
Joule says this structure allows city leaders to expand access to community solar benefits to all of their constituents, including low-to-moderate income (LMI) residents who have historically been unable to benefit from community electricity supply. traditional opt-in or community. programs due to state regulations and socio-economic barriers. Of the 3,800 customers eligible for the Finger Lakes Community Choice opt-out program, over 200 are low-income households and approximately 300 are moderate-income. In the future, IMT residents will continue to be the first to receive solar credits within a municipality.
In addition to the Community Choice Solar Opt-Out Program, Finger Lakes Community Choice has also launched a Community Choice Electricity Program, which will provide residents and businesses with Brockport and Lima with 100 percent renewable energy for the next two years, powered by New York State run-of-river hydroelectricity. As with community solar, customers can opt out or exit the power supply program at any time without penalty.
Together, the community choice solar and electricity programs will provide residents with approximately 48 million kWh of renewable energy, avoiding 34,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. These types of locally led community choice energy programs will be an important pillar in achieving that of New York mandate to reach 70 percent renewable energy by 2030, with 35 percent of benefits targeting IMT residents.
“Our mission has always been and continues to be based on empowering municipalities to have a say in the origin of their energy supply. This revolutionary program will benefit almost all residents of Brockport and Lima», Said the CEO of Joule Assets Jessica stromback.
Unfortunately, a pending regulatory proposal, ‘Expanded Solar for All’, puts the future of similar projects at risk. If passed in the fall, the proposal would grant [major listed utility] national grid a de facto monopoly on the community solar market, effectively diminishing the power of local municipalities to stimulate renewable energy growth from scratch, ”added Stromback.
While the pending proposal, submitted jointly by NYSERDA (New York State Agency for Energy Research and Development) and national grid, aims to expand community solar access to LMI residents enrolled in the HEAP program, it excludes approximately 65% of LMI New Yorkers who are not enrolled in the program. Community choice solar programs with opt-out have the potential to benefit a much larger number of IMT residents.
The public comment period for the E-SFA proposal ended on 23 august with 277 responses submitted in opposition by a wide range of stakeholders, including ACC municipalities, solar developers and concerned citizens, accounting for 98 percent of the total comments. The Civil Service Commission is expected to vote on the proposal later this fall.
“The aggregation of community choices has long been our goal and thanks to this partnership with Joule, we finally have a program that will benefit our residents with guaranteed savings and assistance. new York achieve its clean energy goals, ”added Lima Deputy Mayor John wadach. “The fact that our residents can reap both financial and environmental benefits without having to take action justifies our efforts. We hope that other municipalities will also make their voices heard and be able to offer similar programs for the benefit of their residents.
“Our constituents saw firsthand the financial benefits of aggregating community choices, and we eagerly awaited the opportunity to participate in a community choice solar opt-out program that would benefit a large portion of our communities. residents ”, declared Brockport Mayor Margaret blackman. “Community solar energy is the future of clean energy and it is essential that municipalities are strongly involved in the process of serving their residents to make community solar energy possible. “
Joule is the only administrator of the program with the approval of New York State to integrate community solar and electricity supply into a community choice offer. As Joule expands his offer through New York State, he says he is looking to add 250 MW of community-distributed solar generation capacity in utility areas north of Westchester County. Of this amount, 80 percent is contracted specifically to serve IMT residents in participating municipalities.
In July of this year, the New York State Civil Service Commission (PSC). To date, five municipalities in three New York City utility territories have already been approved by the Department of the Civil Service to offer a community solar option, including the two Finger Lakes area projects that have been launched. Tuesday.