- The New York Public Service Commission has approved a low income solar program proposed by Consolidated Edison, to serve up clean energy to between 800 and 1,600 customers in the first phase.
- Con Edison will develop solar panels on company-owned roofs and grounds, and expects to begin providing renewable energy to low-income customers in 2018. The first panels will be installed on properties in Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester County.
- The utility has indicated it wants to expand the program, and told regulators that it could provide up to 11 MW over five years, by utilizing more than 40 facility rooftops. Participants could save about $60/year.
Consolidated Edison's innovative solar program could ultimately serve a total of 6,000 customers, potentially saving them about $5 on their monthly bills by developing solar resources on utility-owned roofs.
The proposal faced some criticism earlier this year. Politico noted that the Independent Power Producers of New York argued the plan, to allow ConEd to own the generation, could curb competitive development of clean energy resources.
However, in a statement, PSC Chairman John Rhodes said Con Edison "is filling a niche that hasn’t been fully served in the state." He added that the commission believes the project, and the insights gained from the pilot, "will lead to market development of other shared solar arrays around the state that will bring the benefits
of clean energy to more low-income customers.”
Matthew Ketschke, Con Edison’s vice president of distributed resource integration, said in a statement that the pilot will make renewable energy "available to a group of customers who have been largely shut out of the solar market."
There are a range of factors making it difficult for low-income customers to access solar energy: many rent or live in multi-family buildings where they do not own the roof, and the upfront cost can be prohibitive. Con Edison has more than 10,000 customers with solar panels, and only 200 are in the utility's low-income program.
The utility estimated the cost of the first phase of the program to be about $9 million. The Con Edison headquarters, located in Manhattan, already has panels installed that produce 40 kW.