The sun may be accessible to everyone, but solar power is out of reach for many low-income New Yorkers who might want the environmental and economic benefits of solar energy but don’t own a rooftop or lack the financial resources to purchase solar panels. Consolidated Edison wants to change that with a proposed pilot program that would install solar panels on some of its buildings throughout NYC and the northern suburbs in order to share the benefits with needy customers. The company claims it has enough roof space for 11 megawatts of solar electricity, resulting in savings of $5 a month for as many as 6,000 customers in the city and Westchester County who qualify for financial help.
“We want to do our part to make sure that all of our customers have access to renewable energy, regardless of their income level,” Matthew Ketschke, Con Edison’s vice president for distributed resource integration, told The New York Times.
According to The Times’ article, the company also wants to demonstrate that it is following an order issued last year by the state’s Public Service Commission to expand consumer access to clean energy through a shared renewables initiative called the Community Shared Renewables program. Con Ed is planning to ask state regulators this week for permission to install the solar panels partly because the company would own the solar panels, a practice that is generally prohibited for utilities that distribute electricity.
Ketschke told the Times that the company is also looking at installing solar panels on top of other buildings, including offices, substations and garages. He said the first solar panel installations could be generating renewable electricity for low-income New Yorkers by the end of 2017.
Images via Con Edison