Solar

Energy Perspectives  

NYS Public Service Commission Press Release: Accelerated Community Solar Project Development

April 25, 2019

The New York State Public Service Commission acted Friday to improve the overall value, predictability and certainty for community solar project development. Specifically, the improvements to the PSC’s nationally recognized renewable energy policy known as the value of distributed energy resources (VDER) will create the potential for more than 1,000 megawatts of additional community-distributed generation (CDG) projects beyond the 500 MW of projects already in the pipeline. By accurately compensating distributed energy to maximize grid benefit and reduce costs for distributed energy providers and consumers, this policy will advance the state’s renewable energy industry, including the bourgeoning CDG market.

VDER compensates owners of solar and other distributed and renewable energy projects for the values they provide to society and the grid, including carbon-free power, thereby reducing cost shifting while still providing good returns to solar and other renewable projects.

“Distributed clean energy resources are critical to building an energy system that will provide 70 percent clean and renewable energy in New York by 2030, as put forward by Gov. Cuomo’s ‘Green New Deal,’ ” PSC Chairman John B. Rhodes said. “Smarter, clearer compensation for these projects will assure that these markets are developed in a robust, cost-effective and sustainable way. In anticipation of Earth Day, today’s order recognizes the necessity to refine and advance compensation for distributed energy to encourage investment in New York’s clean energy economy.”

VDER is an innovative successor policy to net metering and was implemented because net metering was a blunt compensation method that did not encourage projects to maximize grid benefits and, over time, will cause unfair impacts on ratepayers. Instead, under this new structure, VDER manages the potential costs of each solar project to the state and to utility customers maximizing the overall opportunity for distributed solar in New York state without imposing unreasonable costs on nonparticipating ratepayers.

In December, Department of Public Service staff issued two white papers that were the result of vigorous public input and stakeholder engagement. Today’s order reflects feedback received on these white papers from active parties to the VDER proceeding and other stakeholders.

Specifically, the order implements several recommendations, which will serve as important next steps in the evolution of the state’s VDER policy.

 

The order:

•Establishes expanded opportunities for electric customers to benefit from CDG projects in their utility territories;

•Provides for alternative incentive mechanisms for community solar in the Central Hudson Gas & Electric and Orange and Rockland utility regions, where CDG development has already been robust;

•Improves the process for calculating and compensating for the distribution value of clean and renewable generation through more predictability and financeability; and

•Expands net energy metering to systems up to 750 kW in size in cases where onsite energy generation is primarily used to satisfy a customer’s demand. Because the rate designs are applicable only to these customers, expanding net metering to them will not shift significant costs to other customers.

The order will provide additional opportunity for customers to participate in CDG projects within utility territories where previously authorized MTCs have been fully subscribed. This includes Orange & Rockland and Central Hudson, where more than 190 MW of CDG are already in service or in advanced stages of development. Existing funds will be used to provide upfront incentives to about 100 MW of new projects split between Orange & Rockland and Central Hudson, to nurture continued market growth while managing overall costs.

Additionally, new projects outside of O&R and Central Hudson receive “community credits in place of an MTC.” These new credits are enhanced and standardized to both provide a greater opportunity for clean energy projects to lower financing costs and enable additional electric customers in upstate utility territories to meet their energy needs by participating in a CDG project. These community credits will be available to more than 700 MW of new projects, thereby creating robust CDG opportunity for New Yorkers across the state. Furthermore, 400 MW of community credits will be available in Con Edison for new CDG projects.

The installation of distributed energy resources in New York has already resulted in lower carbon emissions, economic activity, ratepayer savings, and increased grid resiliency. Currently, there are nearly 4,200 solar projects in development across New York contributing to New York’s statewide solar growth of nearly 1,500 percent since 2011. This includes about 880 MW DC of CDG in the pipeline, more community solar than was installed in all states in 2018. 2018 was New York’s most successful year ever for PV deployment in New York, with over 281 MW of state-supported solar installed. The VDER revisions approved today will help stimulate an additional 1,000 MW of new CDG, thereby helping to fulfill the intent of this policy to expand access to clean energy for all New Yorkers.

Today’s decision may be obtained by going to the PSC documents section of the commission’s website at www.dps.ny.gov and entering case number 15-E-0751 in the input box labeled "Search for Case/Matter Number.” PSC documents may also be obtained from the commission’s files office, 14th floor, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223 (518-474-2500).

To learn more about the “Green New Deal” and “Reforming the Energy Vision,” visit rev.ny.gov.

NYSERDA Announces First Awards of Solar For All Program to Assist Low Income New Yorkers

December 05, 2018

Press Release

December 03, 2018

 

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced that nine community solar projects throughout New York have been awarded contracts through the “Solar For All” program. This is the first in a series of awards under the program to provide access to no-cost community solar to 10,000 low-income New Yorkers. Increasing access to renewable energy for all New Yorkers is a cornerstone of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s clean energy agenda, and today’s announcement supports both the state’s goal of building three gigawatts of solar projects by 2023 and the Governor’s mandate for 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 to combat climate change.

 

Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “Today, under the forward-thinking leadership of Governor Cuomo, solar energy is growing faster than ever before, and it is accessible for more New York homeowners and renters than ever before. NYSERDA is proud to be advancing the Solar for All program to make sure that our most vulnerable residents have increasing access to renewable energy while supporting the Governor’s commitment to lowering energy costs for New York families.”

 

As part of Governor Cuomo’s $1 billion NY-Sun program, Solar For All offers eligible low-income households the opportunity to subscribe to a community solar project in their area without any upfront costs or participation fees. By enabling consumers to subscribe to a local community solar project, these projects increase access to solar for homeowners and renters who may not have ideal conditions to install solar panels at their location. Energy is still delivered through their regular electric provider while the power produced from the community solar array is fed directly back to the electric grid. As a result, the grid is supplied with clean, renewable energy while subscribers get credit on their electric bills. Today's announcement supports New York's nation-leading efforts to combat climate change as part of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 16 states and Puerto Rico committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pursuing aggressive climate actions at the state level in light of the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords, to create an energy grid that can be relied on during severe weather events.

 

Solar for All projects selected in the first round will serve approximately 7,000 low income homeowners and renters who receive electric service from NYSEG, National Grid, Central Hudson, and Orange & Rockland. In addition to savings on participant electric bills, some of the selected projects have also committed to additional community benefits, including donations to local organizations serving families in need, educational programs for local schools, and committing additional project capacity to subscriptions for low-to-moderate income households. NYSERDA will launch a second round of the program in 2019, which will expand the number of households and areas served by the program.

 

The Solar for All contracts were awarded to groups located in these towns and regions:

 

Town of Crawford (Mid-Hudson): Clearway Energy Group: Crans Mill is a 2.8 megawatt community solar project of which 1 megawatt will be used to provide no-cost solar subscriptions in Orange and Rockland’s utility territory.


Town of Grand Island (Western New York): BlueRock Energy Solar, Inc.: BlueRock Grand Island is a 2.1 megawatt community solar project of which 1 megawatt will be used to provide no-cost solar subscriptions in National Grid’s utility territory in western New York.


Town of Johnstown (Mohawk Valley): Common Energy: Johnstown A and B are two community solar projects - 2.8 megawatts and 2.0 megawatts - adjacent to each other, and will provide 1 megawatt each for no-cost solar subscriptions in National Grid’s Capital Region utility territory.


Town of Mooers (North Country): Delaware River Solar: Boas #4 is a2.7 megawatt community solar project of which 1 megawatt will be used to provide no-cost solar subscriptions in NYSEG’s northern New York region as well as the rest of NYSEG’s utility territory.


Town of Poughkeepsie (Mid-Hudson): Clearway Energy Group: Underhill is a3.0 megawatt community solar project of which 1 megawatt will be used to provide no-cost solar subscriptions in Central Hudson’s utility territory.


Town of Rochester (Mid-Hudson): Nexamp: Nexamp Rochester is a5.6 megawatt community solar project of which 1 megawatt will be used to provide no-cost solar subscriptions in Central Hudson’s utility territory.


Town of Seneca (Finger Lakes): Nexamp: Nexamp Seneca is a2.6 megawatt community solar project of which 1 megawatt will be used to provide no-cost solar subscriptions in NYSEG’s Central New York region as well as the rest of NYSEG’s utility territory.


Town of Thompson (Mid-Hudson): Delaware River Solar: Sackett Lake is a2.8 megawatt community solar project of which 1 megawatt will be used to provide no-cost solar subscriptions in NYSEG’s utility territory in the Mohawk Valley region.


Eligibility for Solar for All is based on a resident’s location, household income, and annual electric usage. For more information on Solar for All eligibility and to sign up, homeowners and renters are encouraged to visit: www.nyserda.ny.gov/solarforall. Residents who need help answering questions about Solar for All can email solarforall@nyserda.ny.gov or call 1-877-NYSMART.

Funding for this program is provided by the state’s 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund (CEF), a core component of New York State’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy to achieve a clean, resilient, and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers.

 

About NY-Sun
NY-Sun is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the State closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. Since 2011, solar in New York State has increased more than 1,000 percent and leveraged nearly $2.8 billion in private investments. There are nearly 12,000 people engaged in solar jobs across New York.

 

About NYSERDA
NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit nyserda.ny.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.

The City of Portland Clean Energy Initiative

November 19, 2018

The Portland Clean Energy Initiative means $30 million in new annual revenue for clean energy and clean energy jobs in Portland. Nonprofit organizations, alone or in partnership with for-profit companies, schools and/or other government agencies, can apply for grants from this revenue to weatherize homes, install solar and other renewable energy projects, provide job and contractor training, expand local food production and build green infrastructure in Portland. The revenue is raised by a new 1% business licensing surcharge on the Portland revenue generated by retail corporations with over $1 billion in annual revenue and at least $500,000 in Portland revenue.

 

The Portland Clean Energy Initiative has a fundamental commitment to Portlanders who are most impacted by climate change but have been excluded from the emerging low-carbon economy: low-income people and people of color. At least 50% of grant-funded energy efficiency/renewable energy projects “should specifically benefit low-income residents and communities of color;” and at least 20% of all grants “shall be awarded to nonprofit organizations with a mission and track record of programs that benefit economically disadvantaged community members.”

 

Our initiative is Oregon’s first ever community of color-led environmental ballot measure, with core leadership from the African-American, Native American, Latinx and Asian-Pacific Islander communities. The culmination of years of capacity building partnerships between organizations of color and the philanthropic community, PCEI signals the arrival of a new inclusive climate movement that can win elections in Portland, in Oregon and nationwide.

​www.portlandcleanenergyinitiative.com

NREL identifies where new solar technologies can be flexible

November 15, 2018

Rigid silicon solar panels dominate the utility and residential markets, but opportunity exists for thin-film photovoltaic and emerging technologies notable for being lightweight and flexible, according to scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Thin films such as cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), along with perovskites and other new technologies, could be ideal for generating the electricity needed for unmanned drones, portable chargers, and building facades. The opportunities and challenges inherent in widespread adoption of these ideas appear in the new Nature Energy paper, "Increasing Markets and Decreasing Package Weight for High Specific Power Photovoltaics."

"We explore the limits behind power-to-weight ratios and how this can generate value for emerging players in photovoltaics to enable them to reach gigawatt scale without having to directly compete with silicon solar panels," said Matthew Reese, an NREL researcher and lead author of the paper.

The paper was co-authored by Stephen Glynn, Michael Kempe, Deborah McGott, Matthew Dabney, Teresa Barnes, Samuel Booth, David Feldman, and Nancy Haegel, all from NREL.

Silicon panels constitute 95 percent of the global solar market, generating electricity for utilities, residences, and businesses, but the researchers identified applications that must consider value propositions beyond the standard value triad of cost, efficiency, and reliability used for conventional photovoltaic (PV) panels. Flexibility and portability will be important factors, with the performance of the technology quantified in terms of watts per kilogram.

The researchers identified three high-value markets, each with a potential to cumulatively generate a gigawatt (GW) of electricity—at a price above $1 a watt—over the next 10 years:

Aerospace and unmanned aerial vehicles – Powering satellites is driven by extremely high launch costs; whereas, there is an increasing desire to keep drones aloft for very long periods. For both of these applications, limited space makes efficiency and weight critical and cost secondary. A key player in this market is III-V PV, but while highly efficient it's also too expensive for many applications.
Portable charging – Making it easy for one person to install or move a portable charger is driving the need for PV technology that's efficient and flexible. Finding the correct balance between those requirements and cost could put millions of units into service by the military, disaster relief workers, and recreational users.
Ground transportation – The integration of PV in electric vehicles will compete with electricity coming from the grid, but the addition could extend the driving range. The PV would have to use smaller panels and be flexible enough to conform the contours of the roof.
The researchers identified these markets as smaller but significant and ones that will pay a premium for the added value of the technology being lightweight to support initial, low-scale production. As production increases, lower costs will follow.

The NREL team determined the lower limit for a lightweight PV device is between 300 and 500 grams per square meter. Below that would reduce reliability, durability, and safety. A lightweight module on the lower side of that range could generate more than a kilowatt of electricity from something that weighs as little as a six pack of soda. Conventional modules, even without the additional weight from the mounting equipment, might require 150–200 pounds to generate this much power.   https://techxplore.com/news/2018-11-nrel-solar-technologies-flexible.html

 

Article reprinted from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory:

www.nrel.gov   
 

Joint Advocate Statement Re: NY Public Service Commission’s Upcoming Decision on Customer Credits for Community Solar

October 17, 2018

 

ALBANY, NY – Advocates for clean energy called on the New York State Public Service Commission to expand access to community solar by approving proposed increases to customer bill savings and access for municipalities and other large customers. The advocates sent joint comments to the Public Service Commission in response to the Staff Whitepaper on Future Community Distributed Generation Compensation released on July 26, 2018. Advocates are urging the PSC to approve the proposed improvements by their November 15 meeting.

In addition to the joint letter, the following advocates issued the joint statement below: The Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Coalition for Community Solar Access, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Solar Energy Industries Association, Pace Energy & Climate Center, Solar Energy Industries Association, and Vote Solar.
 

JOINT STATEMENT:

“We urge the Public Service Commission (PSC) to act quickly to approve the increases to market transition credits outlined in the July 26 proposal by Department of Public Service staff. In addition, we urge the PSC to make community solar work for municipalities, schools, businesses, and master metered buildings by extending eligibility for market transition credits to larger customers. These improvements to the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) tariff will help hundreds of community solar projects move forward across the state, expand access to community solar to hundreds of thousands more New Yorkers, and attract much needed investment in upstate communities. The groups also filed a petition this week at the Commission to improve calculations related to avoiding environmental damages. Without these improvements the state’s complex VDER framework will continue to undercompensate clean energy projects, hold back clean energy development, and prevent equitable access to New Yorkers who want to go solar and save on their electric bills.”

-Coalition For Community Solar Access, October 17, 2018
 

The Commonwealth of Virginia 2018 Energy Plan

October 03, 2018

On October 1, the State released its 2018 Energy Plan as a guide while it looks out over the next ten years and aligns actions with prior legislation.

 

The report projects energy use and provides an analysis of many energy topics affecting the state: generation, transmission and distribution resources, siting requirements, fuel diversity, efficiency and conservation initiatives, as well as impacts on economically disadvantaged or minority communities.

 

There was a recommendation to continue and expand the pilot program for community solar currently in place. The program has a limit on the capacity of individual solar facilities that can participate at 2 MW, and is capped at 10 MW of aggregate capacity in APCo’s service territory and 40 MW in Dominion’s service territory. The Energy Plan further recommends doubling the Commonwealth’s renewable energy procurement target to 16% by 2022.

 

The state noted that there was already plenty of solar power planned for the state and that its “Permit by Rule” (PBR) program for renewable energy projects under 150 MW was operating efficiently. To date, 26 PBR permits for solar projects and one wind power project totaling 816 MW have been issued, with an additional 58 Notices of Intent to apply in the PBR queue totaling 3,317 MW. In addition, the state’s permitting process, PJM Interconnection lists 116 Virginia solar projects in their own New Services Queue totaling over 10 GW.

California to become the first State to require solar panels for new homes

May 05, 2018

California approves new energy standards that would require solar panels on the roofs of nearly all new homes, condos, and apartment buildings from 2020 onward. There will be exceptions regarding available space and exposure to the sun.

 

The new rules will include “compliance credits” for homebuilders who install storage batteries, letting them install smaller systems given the excess energy will be available to use after the sun sets. Construction costs are expected to be rise around $27,000.00. The self-produced energy is estimated to save owners tens of thousands of dollars over a solar system’s lifetime.

United Nations Report: Strong Increases in Solar Energy Investments

April 10, 2018

According to a new report for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
More money was invested in solar power in 2017 than in coal, gas and nuclear power combined, The report further elaborates that global investment in solar rose 18% to $160.8 billion, driven by the Chinese market, which was responsible for more than half of the world’s 98GW of new solar capacity.

 

Solar power made up 57% of last year’s total for all renewables (excluding large hydro) of $279.8 billion, and it towered above new investment in coal and gas generation capacity, at an estimated $103 billion.

 

A record 157GW of renewable power were commissioned last year, up from 143GW in 2016 and far higher than the net 70GW of fossil-fuel generating capacity added (after adjusting for the closure of some existing plants) during the same period.

 

The Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 report, released by UNEP and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, finds that falling costs for solar electricity, and to some extent wind power, are continuing to drive deployment of renewable technologies.

A separate report from the International Renewable Energy Agency said that renewable capacity including large hydro grew 167GW, or 8.3%.

New York Raises Community Solar Cap from 2 MW to 5 MW

February 23, 2018

The New York State Public Service Commission announced an increase in the size limit for community solar projects participating in New York’s clean energy program. The decision will allow more renewable energy projects to be built. Expanding access to cost effective clean energy is a primary goal of New York’s clean energy standard, which will create enough renewable energy to meet half of the state’s electricity by 2030”, according to John Rhodes, the head of the commission.

 

The Public Service Commission increased the maximum rated capacity for projects from 2MW to 5 MW.  Continued Mr. Rhodes, “Our decision to expand the size of the projects eligible for compensation will further reduce costs and spur the development of solar power, energy storage and other localized forms of electric generation.”

Hawaii Reforms Utility Model, Incentives for Solar

April 26, 2018

Hawaii is overhauling how utilities get paid, upending a century-old business model and ordering incentives for affordability, renewable power and helping homeowners add rooftop solar.

 

Gov. David Ige (D) on Tuesday signed legislation that directs the state's Public Utilities Commission to create a framework for rewarding utilities based on performance. Criteria for rewards or penalties include "rapid integration of renewable energy sources, including quality interconnection of customer-sited resources."​

It's the latest move as the state pushes toward clean energy. Hawaii in 2015 passed a mandate to hit 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045, becoming the first state in the country to approve that goal. The Aloha State at the time had no blueprint for how to make it happen. Much remains in the planning stage, though leaders argue it's achievable.

E&E News, April 26, 2018

SEIA - Solar Market Insight Report 2017 Year in Review

May 16, 2018

SEIA Solar Energy Industries Association

Annual Industry Report

 

Key Highlights of the report

 

  • In 2017, the U.S. market installed 10.6 GWdc of solar PV, a 30% decrease year-over-year from 2016.

  • In 2017, 30% of all new electric generating capacity brought online in the U.S. came from solar, ranking second during that period only to natural gas.

  • Q4 2017 saw price increases in most PV market segments stemming from increases in module costs. This was due to a global shortage of Tier 1 module supply and the uncertainty spurred by the Section 201 petition. However, the price increases were mitigated by falling prices in racking and inverters, improving operating efficiencies, and likely margin compression.

  • The residential PV sector fell 16% from 2016. This contraction was driven by weakness in California and major Northeast markets, which continue to feel the impact of pullback from certain national installers that have shifted away from rapid-expansion strategies.

  • In contrast to residential PV, the non-residential sector grew 28% year-over-year, primarily driven by regulatory demand pull-in from looming policy deadlines in California and the Northeast, in addition to the continued build-out of a robust community solar pipeline in Minnesota.

  • Voluntary procurement, rather than state-mandated Renewable Portfolio Standards, will continue to be the primary driver of new utility PV demand, anticipated to drive 1/3 of utility build-out in 2018.

  • GTM Research forecasts slight growth in 2018 from 2017, with another 10.6 GWdc of new PV installations expected.

  • In response to the impact of Section 201 and corporate tax reform, GTM Research has reduced its total U.S. solar PV forecasts by 13% from 2018E-2022E since the last edition of this report.

  • Total installed U.S. PV capacity is expected to more than double over the next five years, and by 2023, over 15 GW of PV capacity will be installed annually.

Competitive solar-plus-storage moves closer to reality

May 10, 2018

Incentives and economics result in more pairings of solar power and energy storage.

 

Press Release: EnSync, Inc. (NYSE American: ESNC), dba Home Energy System for property developers and residential customers looking for a completely integrated system with solar, energy storage, power electronics and an Internet of Energy control platform that delivers state-of-the-art functionality and modularity, with industry benchmark economics, safety and system efficiency. EnSync Energy Systems, the leading developer of innovative distributed energy resources (DERs) and business models for commercial and industrial (C&I) buildings and microgrid installations, today launched the company's leapfrog EnSync

 

 

EnSync Energy has built a reputation for deploying high-value DERs in the C&I building market segment, with modular and bankable solar plus energy storage solutions that have been deployed in commercial installations and sold to a multitude of buyers and investors. EnSync now brings the same innovation and expertise that enabled its leadership in the C&I market to solve the significant market challenges and product shortcomings for residential properties, delivering breakthroughs in performance, functionality, economic benefit and future-enabling capabilities.

 

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Solar Powering America is an interagency initiative between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support greater solar deployment. Each agency’s unique and independent solar programs are featured in Solar Powering America’s online resource library for use by the solar community. 

Local energy networks called microgrids can help communities reduce costs, promote clean energy, and build reliability and resiliency into the grid. They are able to fully separate from the larger electrical grid during extreme weather events and emergencies, providing power to customers and vital public services such as hospitals, schools and wastewater treatment facilities

Sustainability means the activities we undertake today will not compromise the present generation’s or future generations’ ability to meet their own needs.

It is grounded in the recognition that people, economic development, and the environment are interconnected, and for any to thrive, all must thrive together. A sustainable city is connected by transportation systems that move people and goods to their destinations in a way that is both affordable and minimizes air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In a sustainable city, the air is breathable and the water drinkable. Waterways are clean and healthy food is available in any neighborhood

Community solar is an array of panels installed in a sunny location. Anyone in the area can access the clean energy produced by these solar panels and get credits toward their electricity bills.

 

To be a part of a community solar project you just need to have an account with an electric utility, then you:

 

  • Find a community solar project in your area and ask about rates and subscription plans

  • Subscribe to a plan that works for you

  • Save. Your electricity provider will still deliver energy to you, and you’ll be credited for your portion of the community solar project right on your electricity bill.

 

- NYSERDA, 2018

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Energize Your Community Today

Community SolarWorks LLC

222 Broadway 

19th Floor

New York, N.Y. 10038

646-374-6804

Please send any inquiries to 

denise@communitysolarworks.net

 

Government Links

NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability

NYSERDA - Community Solar

U.S. Department of Energy