The state of New York has seen an uptick in renewable use, and to ensure it remains on the rise, Westchester County has encouraged local communities to join community solar programs. George Latimer, a Westchester County executive, reached out to municipalities to recommend that they seek funding from the Affordable Solar and Energy Storage Predevelopment and Technical Assistance Program. The New York-based program could allow these governing bodies to receive funding for clean, renewable energy like solar power.
Supporting Westchester County’s push for more residents to join community solar programs is a grant of $10.6 million provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The authority has made money available to serve low-income communities that would otherwise have no renewable energy options. This money could implement new community solar options, which locals could register for and enjoy the benefits of clean electricity and utility credits.
Though New York is still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the affordable solar program makes funds available to offset the initial costs of making solar installations possible. Some of the funding may even be presented to business owners that offer their space for new parking lot or rooftop solar arrays.
Latimer confirmed that many homeowners in New York are incapable of installing rooftop solar panels. A significant cause for this is that they are in rental properties, but other issues that may arise include too much shade and overall cost. Latimer discussed the affordability of community solar as it provides utility discounts related to the amount of energy produced.
At the forefront of bringing community solar to Westchester is Sustainable Westchester, a non-profit dedicated to bringing community solar to residents who can’t afford other solar options. Sustainable Westchester partners with developers and property owners to encourage an increase in solar development, which would benefit locals.
Peter McCartt, director of Energy Conservation and Sustainability, calls the push for more community solar in Westchester County a “win-win-win opportunity.”