Community Solar Subscriptions Turned Into Donations

photovoltaic system solar panels
Community Solar

Generally, when subscribers sign up for a community solar program, their money is part of the revenue earned by the solar company that owns the installation. For 46 of its community solar subscriptions, Joule Community Power opted to use the money for a different purpose. On Thursday, Aug 13, representatives of the community power company handed over a check for $2,300 to Ivan Echenique, director of Family of New Paltz, and Michael Berg, executive director of Family of Woodstock. All $2,300 was gathered from 46 of the subscriptions to Joule Community Power’s community solar option.

Joule, along with a third party brought in to handle subscriptions, operates a community solar project that allows residents of New Paltz to partake in solar energy. Typically, they would need to install expensive panels on their roof, but community solar removes the need for private equipment. All energy generated comes from a facility owned and operated by Joule. To help the Family of New Paltz, Joule decided to donate $50 for every household subscription to the charity. The agreement is ongoing and Joule will continue to donate money as it keeps receiving new subscribers.

The program has one flaw due to state legislation. Customers of the community solar program receive two separate bills, where one shows a credit for the power cost. The other is directly from the solar provider and shows 90% of the credit. The final figure is a 10% credit on monthly utility bills for taking part in Joule’s community solar program.

According to Jessica Stromback, Joule managing director, a community solar subscription is a way to let more people benefit from solar energy. This plays into New York’s net-zero carbon emissions, where it hopes to reduce all carbon emissions to zero. The state hopes to hit 4,000 megawatts of power by 2024.

Ivan Echenique spoke about the donation and how it could be used. As part of the Family of New Paltz, Echenique believes that the incoming cash could have a profound effect on families. He thinks some of that money will help with vehicle repairs while another portion will go toward other services offered by Family, including food banks and job-search assistance.


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