“Solar should be able to benefit everyone!”

Hancock Community Solar

Community Solar Farm in Hancock, MA

Until now, solar was mostly available to affluent homeowners with a perfectly situated roof, or to large companies. Luckily, that’s starting to change. According to a recent Greentech Media article by Emma Foehringer Merchant, “How to Build Community Solar Projects for the Masses,” community solar is positioned to make clean energy affordable and accessible to previously underserved communities.

“A new report from GTM Research, Wood Mackenzie and Vote Solar, a solar accessibility advocate, notes that 50 to 75 percent of U.S. consumers don’t have access to conventional rooftop installations. But if it is executed properly, community solar can change that… ‘Solar should be able to benefit everyone,’ said MJ Shiao, head of Americas research at GTM Research. ‘But it’s difficult to apply onsite solar to folks who rent, or to low-income communities….’ ”

It’s often difficult or impossible to put solar up on rental units or condos, which bars a lot of customers from the market. Especially in urban areas, where living space comes at a premium and a lot of people rent, this is a serious obstacle for meeting the demand for clean energy. In addition to the environmental benefits of solar projects, there are also some real financial benefit. The savings from solar projects have not been accessible to the populations who arguably could benefit the most from them.

Community solar could go beyond just making solar more accessible; it could be developed to help specific populations: “GTM Research notes in its report that ‘community solar can be used as a tool to target benefits to communities historically have been at the front lines of environmental pollution and negative impacts from traditional energy generation.’”

Analysts recommend job training programs, siting preferences and community-focused incentives to provide benefits to populations that have been sidelined by the electricity system. Baking environmental justice initiatives into community solar development can also have positive impacts on public health.”

It’s a win on all sides – generate jobs in places that need them, offer the financial benefits of solar to new and underserved populations, improve the quality of the environment by replacing polluting power plants, and give more people the ability to choose clean power.

More solar farms are going up across Massachusetts – find out here if there is a community solar project that serves your area!

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July customer success stories

Pat and Chris are looking forward to knocking more dirty energy off the electric grid with #communitysolar from Relay Power #solarisworking #solarenergy #solargarden #actonclimate

 

Delores is installing #rooftopsolar without increasing any costs and decreasing her energy bill by 30% #solarisworking #newbedford

 

Using Relay Power innovative approach to #cleanenergy Matthew found that #rooftopsolar & #communitysolar was the best approach to his all electric home. #solarisworking #solarenergy #solargarden

 

Having #rooftopsolar on the front of her historic home was not ideal for Shannon and her family so with Relay Power they are going solar with #communitysolar and a local #solargarden in #plymouthmass #solarisworking

 

After being in the Army for years and traveling across the country, Frank is aware that we don’t always take care of our land the way we should. That is why he is subscribing to #communitysolar with Relay Power and using #cleanenergy for his home. #solarisworking #localenergy #solarenergy

 

Kathryn and Shap want clean energy and are no fans of fracking. Their roof isn’t great for rooftop so #communitysolar through the Plymouth #solargarden with Relay Power still allows them to #gosolar and save on electricity. #solarisworking #solarenergy

 

Saturday morning coffee and #communitysolar for Julie & Bill. #cleanenergy #solarisworking #localenergy #localjobs #solarenergy

 

Dr. Dossot is already an efficient electric user but wants his energy coming from a local #solargarden in #plymouth. #solarisworking #harvestthesunshine #solar #solarenergy

 

Just two @universityofri alums that enjoy #cleanenergy #communitysolar #solargarden #solarisworking #harvestthesunshine

More customer success stories

I had no idea I could go solar without installing anything at my house and save money. -Elizabeth, Plymouth, MA #communitysolar #solarisworking #solarenergy

 

Drew is napping in preparation for his 1st birthday on Saturday but his Dad, Tim is excited about the impact he is having on the local economy and money he is saving with #communitysolar with @altuspower and @relaypower #solarisworking #solargarden #cleanenergy #solarenergy

 

Paul likes to #buylocal and now his energy is local with #communitysolar from @AltusPower & @relay_power #solarisworking

 

Using clean energy from here in Plymouth and saving on energy bills? Absolutely! Say hello to Michael and Christine. #communitysolar #solarisworking #cleanenergy #solar #cleanenergyjobs #cleanenergyeconomy

 

Pat had as much energy if not more than her black lab and boxer pup! Sweet lady, and happy to be on board! Relay Power #solarfarm #PlymouthMassachusetts #SolarIsWorking @relay_power

 

Deb & Ed wanted to go solar but didn’t want to worry about maintenance. They are doing that with a local solar solar garden with @relaypower #communitysolar #harvestthesunshine #solarisworking #cleanenergy #solargarden #solarenergy

 

See all our customer success stories.

Community Solar comes to the Berkshires

There was another recent good article about the benefits of community solar in Franklin County’s daily newspaper, The Recorder, in Greenfield, Massachusetts, one of the oldest newspapers in the country. It states, “Instead of growing food crops, it’s growing energy – solar energy. Just as community-sustained agriculture is gaining prominence, this solar farm is supporting and is supported by the local community. The state of Massachusetts has a program to make sure that local residents benefit from this new sort of agriculture, called Community Solar.”

It goes on to point out that this opportunity is limited, “Perhaps the biggest restriction is that this program and this Community Solar Farm have limited availability. The end of this program has been announced. There is likely to be a follow-on program, but it’s designed to have smaller incentives as these Community Solar Farms become more prevalent. So, once this one’s full, it’s not clear when the next Community Solar Farm might be built and whether the financial incentive will be this good. Customers who get in now stand to benefit for the life of the solar farm. Customers are placed on a first-come, first-served basis.

To learn all the details about this special program click here and you can schedule a no-obligation discussion…”

April customer success stories

As a renter with electric heat Jacoby was excited for #communitysolar to save money & use clean local energy #solarisworking @relay_power

 

Barbara & Danny are going solar without removing trees around their home that they love #communitysolar #solarisworking @relay_power

 

Jon is using local clean energy and saving money electricity every month #communitysolar #solarisworking @relay_power

 

George can’t do rooftop solar but he is saving with #communitysolar through @relaypower #solarisworking

 

This is a great idea. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t do this. -Stan & Rosemary #solarisworking #communitysolar @relay_power

 

Living in a pine forest and possibly moving to CA in a few years makes #communitysolar from @relaypower a good fit for John #solarisworking

 

Living in the shade of a forest is not keeping Susan from going solar. She’s working with Relay Power to use community solar.

 

Living in Berkshires & working in public health, Barbara values #cleanair & #communitysolar is easy no brainer @relay_power #solarisworking

Community Solar Farm Brings Jobs and Choice

A recent article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, notes that, “According to the Department of Energy, Solar now employs 374,000 workers, or 43 percent of the electric power generation workforce, almost twice as many as employed by all fossil fuel generation including coal, oil, and natural gas generation technologies combined.”

This shows the power of Community Solar to bring jobs as well as choice to area residents.  And of course, it also notes, “To learn all the details about this special program click here and you can schedule a no-obligation discussion with a representative of Relay Power, whose job it is to connect residents with this Community Solar Farm.”

 

Analysis Shows That Community Solar Is Competitive in the Vast Majority of the US

Greentech Media recently reported that, “Solar power is now more affordable in the United States than at any other point in history…
In particular, community solar projects are gaining popularity, as they allow the almost half of U.S. households that may not have access to a “solar-ready” roof to take advantage of the sun’s energy and do it at a lower cost. This can make solar accessible to more low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. Between 2010 and 2015, community solar installations grew rapidly, reaching almost 100 megawatts — and this business model has even greater potential. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates community solar could comprise up to half of the distributed PV market in 2020….

New solar data analysis from NREL explores the affordability of solar using a “savings to investment” (SIR) ratio. This metric captures the ability to recover one’s investment in solar based on the utility bill savings resulting from the solar energy generated by a given solar energy system. NREL conducted a simple SIR analysis for all 50 states by assuming that U.S. residential PV systems today cost between $3.00 per watt and $3.50 per watt and last 25 to 35 years. In this scenario, it could be cost-effective for households to make a shift to solar in a quarter to half of states without any state or local incentives.

Because community solar projects are often larger and can take advantage of bulk pricing, their installed costs are more in-line with commercial solar systems, which cost approximately $2.00 per watt to $2.50 per watt. Holding everything else constant, the number of states in the analysis with positive SIRs increases to 35-48 states with these lower installed costs, which means solar energy is potentially affordable in the vast majority of the country through the community solar business model.

Though this is a very basic analysis, it illustrates that solar is quickly becoming one of the most cost-effective sources of energy for all Americans, regardless of where they live.

However, a recent report by the George Washington University Solar Institute shows that while 49.1 million households earn less than $40,000 of income per year and make up 40 percent of all U.S. households, they only account for less than 5 percent of solar installations. Providing the means for all communities to benefit from solar energy will help the U.S. meet its climate goals while also helping to create a fair market for solar that allows everyone, regardless of where they live or their financial status, to benefit from clean energy.

The enormous opportunity to expand solar electricity access to LMI households is why the SunShot Initiative launched the Solar in Your Community Challenge. Building on the recent White House announcement of the Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative, the challenge will enable the expansion of the solar market to a diverse array of new consumers, especially LMI households and nonprofit, community-serving organizations. Given the analysis from NREL, we have high hopes that the Solar in Your Community Challenge will be the starting point for a solar revolution among new populations…”

Hancock Shaker Village getting greener: Community Solar project underway

The Berkshire Eagle reported on another Community Solar Project that Relay Power is helping customers connect to:

hancocksolar1

Construction of a community solar project is well underway to benefit Eversource customers throughout Western Massachusetts.

The three separate solar arrays being installed on the grounds of Hancock Shaker Village should be completed around Jan. 1 and hopefully operational early next year, according to Syncarpha Solar LLC.

The New York City-based firm, partnered with Renewable Energy Massachusetts, will have a 1-megawatt array on the Pittsfield-side of the living museum along Route 20 and two, 2-megawatt facilities in the town of Hancock.

Collectively, the solar energy generating system will feed the electricity produced into the Eversource power grid, and the three array ownership entities would be set up as Community Shared Solar facilities.

That means residents of the Berkshires who are Eversource customers can buy energy net-metering credits at a discount and realize energy savings, project officials have said.

“You can subscribe for net-metering credits before [the project] is up and running,” said Matt Preskenis, Syncarpha’s vice president of community solar.

Syncarpha’s plan is to target residential customers of Eversource, and also municipalities or educational institutions to contract for the remaining credits

Hancock Shaker Village also makes money off the project as the developers’ facilities would provide lease income for the museum for up to a 30-year period.

“All [27 acres] of the leased land is outside the viewshed of the restored Shaker village,” said acting board of trustees Chairman, Richard Seltzer in a statement. “This environmentally sound use of land is consistent with Shaker ideals and will contribute rents which will facilitate the educational mission of Hancock Shaker Village.”

The developers plan to install at least a seven-foot fence around the arrays and properly screen the Pittsfield site with natural vegetation to minimize the visual impact to neighbors across Route 41.

Syncarpha views the Pittsfield/Hancock solar arrays in keeping with the museum’s mission of sustainability.

“It really goes along with the value of the Shakers,” said project developer Keith Akers.

Preskenis added, “The projects we get most excited about are the tones that work well and align with our customer’s philosophy.”

For information on the Hancock Shaker Village solar project, go to www.syncarpha.solar.