By Stephen Andersen
Citizens are working with fellow citizens to bring solar energy into their communities. Today, volunteer “Solarize” campaigns are growing in popularity throughout New York, giving both residents and businesses new options for installing solar power while saving money.
The Solarize framework was developed by the US Department of Energy (DOE), and debuted in 2009 in Portland, OR. Two years ago there were only two Solarize campaigns in New York State. Now there are 26, and many more across the country.
Why is Solarize becoming more popular? Because it addresses three obstacles to solar:
- Cost – Solarize campaigns lower the cost of solar for homeowners 10 to 20 percent by organizing bulk purchasing among dozens of community members to install solar from a selected installer.
- Technical complexity – Both solar panels and the businesses that install them can vary in quality. By securing experts to review projects, Solarize campaigns provide an extra level of quality assurance.
- Extended decision times – when individuals solicit proposals from several solar installers, it can be overwhelming. An individual can take months or even years to choose a solar installer. Solarize groups address this by securing an optimal installer and equipment, then making that solution and discounted pricing available for only three to four months.
Solarize campaigns also encourage neighbors to get to know one another. As individual homeowners install solar power,neighbors are inspired by their example. Neighborhoods are strengthened.
This year, New York State is providing resources for Solarize campaigns through the Community Solar NY program. These resources include marketing materials, software, technical assistance, funding and a community to share best practices to help projects succeed.
Community Solar NY is part of Governor Mario Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative. This $1 billion program will advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. It is also an important strategy under the governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan, which seeks to create an energy grid that is clean, reliable, affordable, and one that can lead New York to path of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
Here is a list of Solarize campaigns in New York’s Capital Region. Please follow-up with the campaign in your area to request a solar proposal for your home or small business, or to volunteer to make the ampaign in your community a success!
Albany County. Active project. Installations planned in 2015. Contact Dave Hochfelder: 609-948-4668 or email@example.com.
Clifton Park (Town). Project being formed. New team members welcome. Contact Joanne Coons: 518- 522-3173 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saratoga Springs (City). Project being formed. New team members welcome. Contact Rayna Caldwell: 518.424.9304 or email@example.com.
Schenectady. Project being formed. New team members welcome. Contact Gary Lessard: 518.346.2290 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schoharie County. Active project. Installations planned in 2015. Contact Sandy MacKay: 518-234-2817 or email@example.com.
Troy (Rensselaer County). Active project. Installations planned in 2015. Contact Jean Howard or Chris Bystroff: 518-276-3185, 518 833-0744 or Solarize@xtroy.org.
Stephen Anderson is known as “The Johnny Appleseed of Solar”. He volunteers his time to plant seeds of Solarize projects in the Capital Region, and plays a significant role in inspiring each project. His background in solar includes having graduated from the Hudson Valley Community College Solar PV program, and is NABCEP certified.