View a recording of a webinar about Solarize NYC and the community application process:
What is Solarize NYC?
- Solarize NYC is a citywide program designed to increase access to solar and reduce costs through multiple solar group-purchasing campaigns over the next nine years.
- Solarize is a short-term, local, community-led initiative that brings together groups of potential solar customers through widespread outreach and education.
- The traditional Solarize model has three components: 1) Competitive installer selection; 2) Community-led outreach and education; 3) Limited-time offer.
- The community’s collective purchasing power reduces costs while the simplified process, education, and pre-vetted solar installers make it easy for homeowners and businesses to go solar.
What is the opportunity for local communities?
- Community members can save money – Solarize programs typically reduce the cost of installing solar by 20%.
- A typical solar system in NYC could save a homeowner $1,500 to $2,000 per year, and with leases and loans available, solar can often be installed for $0 down.
- Make going solar easy – Campaigns provide pre-vetted installers and a simplified process
- Green your community – Solar power is clean, renewable energy
- Jump start your community’s solar market – Research has shown that solarize campaigns make markets more competitive resulting in lower solar costs and more installations even after campaigns end.
- There is a “neighbor” effect whereby the more people who go solar in a community, the more likely others are to follow their lead.
Stimulate local economic development – Communities can prioritize the selection of partner installers who hire locally
Who can participate in Solarize NYC?
- If a group identifies as a community, then it is eligible for Solarize NYC.
- Communities can be defined by geography (such as neighborhoods), affinity groups (such as houses of worship, membership organizations, unions), or any other body that self-identifies.
- Communities can target their outreach and solar discounts to homeowners, co-ops and condos, businesses, or a mix.
- Renters are not immediately eligible to participate in Solarize NYC, but the NYC Solar Partnership will open the program to renters in future campaigns through Community Shared Solar, which allows renters or others who cannot install solar on their own roof to “subscribe” to solar projects in the community and receive credits for the energy produced right on their electric bill.
How do local communities get involved?
- The application process for communities interested in running Fall 2016 Solarize NYC campaigns starts with a Letter of Interest.
- During the upcoming community application period, the NYC Solar Partnership will hold information sessions and provide guidance on formally applying to Solarize NYC to interested communities.
- The NYC Solar Partnership selects multiple communities per season and works alongside these communities to design a Solarize NYC campaign that is tailored to its needs.
- Based on the campaign design, solar installers will be invited to submit applications to be selected and vetted by the community.
Finally, the campaign will launch, led by community volunteers and local organizations. The NYC Solar Partnership provides support throughout the process.
What is required of communities selected to participate in Solarize NYC?
- The work and time involved in running a Solarize NYC campaign depends on the nature of the community it serves. Campaigns targeting a geographic region, such as a neighborhood, typically require more outreach effort than campaigns targeting affinity groups.
- Typical tasks required of campaign organizers include:
- Outreach to the community through events, materials, email lists, etc.
- Organizing educational workshops for community members to attend
- Attending local events to get the word out and answer questions
- Coordinating with the selected solar installers
What resources are available to communities participating in the program?
- Financial support from the City to organize and run a campaign
- Marketing materials and templates from Solarize NYC
- Technical assistance from the City’s Solar Ombudsmen
- Volunteer training to empower local program administrators
- Connections to partner organizations to assist communities
- Educational materials and workshops with the City’s Solar Ombudsmen
What makes Solarize NYC unique?
- Solarize NYC is supported by the City of New York and designed specifically for the needs of NYC. The program has the flexibility to design campaigns tailored to the neighborhood level, and it provides the support and resources to overcome local solar market barriers.
- The NYC Solar Partnership of Sustainable CUNY, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and NYC Economic Development Corporation bring unparalleled local knowledge and experience to assist communities. The Partnership has been working to grow the solar market in NYC for 10 years.
- The NYC Solar Partnership has direct experience running Solarize campaigns in New York City from a pilot program in Brooklyn’s Community District 6.
My community is interested in Solarize NYC but we don’t know anything about solar. Is that ok?
- Yes. The NYC Solar Partnership will provide volunteer training to assist local campaign organizers in becoming solar ambassadors to their communities. These “train the trainer” sessions will allow community volunteers to host education workshops of their own and answer basic questions about solar from community members.
- The NYC Solar Ombudsmen from Sustainable CUNY will provide technical assistance throughout campaigns and coordinate between campaigns.
- Once communities are selected, the NYC Solar Partnership will work alongside community members to design a Solarize NYC campaign that is tailored to the needs of their community.
- The NYC Solar Partnership will also provide technical assistance during the selection of installer partners for campaigns.
How many hours per week does it take for community volunteers to run a Solarize NYC campaign?
- The number of hours required to run a Solarize NYC campaign depends on the nature of the campaign and if it is geographically based or run through an affinity group.
- In general, the NYC Solar Partnership recommends having at least two volunteers who can dedicate at least three to five hours per week each.
- The more volunteers and partner organizations that assist with a campaign, the more successful it will be.
Does solar work in New York City?
- Yes. NYC homeowners and businesses can save on energy bills with solar today, often for no money down.
- More than 4,500 homeowners and businesses in NYC are already saving with solar power.
- New York City receives more than enough sunlight to make solar an attractive investment. The City receives more sunlight than Germany, which has the highest solar penetration per-capita in the world.
- NYC is on pace for a record-breaking year of installed solar in 2016.
What is the typical cost and payback of a solar system in New York City?
- There has never been a better time to go solar in NYC. The multitude of incentives at the federal, state, and local levels can reduce the installed cost of a solar array by 80% or more.
- Typical solar systems can save homeowners in the range of $1,500 to $2,000 per year.
- Financing options, such as solar loans and leases, often make solar available to homeowners for $0 down with immediate savings.
- For solar purchased without financing, most projects pay for themselves in less than 7 years, with many as low as 4-5 years.
- In general, smaller systems have longer paybacks than larger systems because fixed costs, including permitting fees and system design, comprise a larger percentage of the total cost.
Is solar prohibitively expensive in NYC and can you really save money?
- No. Solar is not prohibitively expensive in NYC, and yes homeowners and businesses can really save money.
- Solar is often available to homeowners and businesses for no up-front cost through leases and loans.
- Typical solar systems can save homeowners in the range of $1,500 to $2,000 per year.
- Although solar has historically cost more in NYC than the rest of the state, average prices are now just 6% higher and as little as 2% higher than the state average in some boroughs.
- New York City’s higher electricity costs and the City’s property tax abatement for solar often make investments in solar energy pay back more quickly in the City than the rest of the state.
- New York State’s Green Jobs – Green NY program provides low-interest, on-bill financing for solar.
- NY-Sun’s Affordable Solar program provides additional incentives low-income homeowners with total household income less than 80% of the area or state median income