Typically, businesses and residential builds benefit the most from community solar, but New York community solar options are starting to reach farms. Among those making the switch to community solar is John Williams of Williams Farms in Marion, NY. Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the state, Williams was actively pursuing community solar after hearing about the real perks that come with becoming a subscriber.
According to Williams, he was initially skeptical about what he was hearing and didn’t believe tapping into solar energy could be free or easy. However, that’s one of the primary draws toward community solar, as it requires absolutely no unwanted costly installations on residential or commercial property. To draw power for farms like Williams Farms, New York community solar options draw power from solar arrays built across an abundance of acreage. For Marion residents and businesses, it’s a 20-30 acre spread of panels.
If farmers like Williams catch on to community solar, clean energy could become a leading source for electricity for New York’s agriculture. The push for community solar is in part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s climate and clean energy agenda. According to the policy, the state wants to use 6-gigawatts of solar energy by 2025. As of 2019, New York is already at 2-gigawatts or one-third of its ultimate goal.
Cuomo also directed the state to draw 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. In a press release from Cuomo, he calls solar vital to New York’s Green Deal, which focuses on reducing emissions and combatting climate change.
For businesses like Williams’, community solar will lead to helpful credits that will reduce utility bills. These savings could, in turn, allow farms to run more efficiently and possibly pass down the reduced cost to the consumer.
Most important to Williams’ decision to switch is cost, and as Max Joel, NY-Sun’s program manager, explains that the cost of the installations falls on the solar companies.