NEW YORK – Con Edison will begin providing renewable energy to low-income customers in 2018 following Wednesday’s approval of a plan to place solar panels on company roofs and grounds.
Con Edison expects to begin installing the first panels on properties in Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester County. In this initial phase, Con Edison expects to install enough panels to generate 3 megawatts of power to serve 800 to 1,600 customers, under a pilot program the company proposed last year.
“We thank the state Public Service Commission for its careful review and approval of the first phase of our Shared Solar Pilot Program, which will make renewable energy available to a group of customers who have been largely shut out of the solar market,” said Matthew Ketschke, Con Edison’s vice president, Distributed Resource Integration. “More customers having access to renewable energy will mean a cleaner environment here in New York City and Westchester County.”
Developers will bid competitively for contracts to install arrays on company properties. The company also plans to begin forming partnerships with community organizations that can help get the word out to customers who may be able to benefit from the program.
There would be no cost to low-income participants, each of whom could realize savings of at least $60 per year.
The company said in its filing that it can build up to 11 megawatts of solar generation over five years and could serve 3,000 to 6,000 residential customers who are in the company’s low-income bill assistance program.
The program would make solar power available to customers who receive bills directly from Con Edison, and who are enrolled in the company’s low-income bill assistance program. They also would be encouraged to participate in an energy efficiency program, which can result in additional customer savings.
The project is consistent with the state’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) initiative, which aims to give customers more access to distributed generation and reduce carbon emissions.
Several factors have made it difficult for low-income customers to access solar energy. First, many of them rent their homes or live in multi-family buildings where they do not have control of their roofs. The upfront costs of installing solar panels and ability to borrow money can also be barriers. Of more than 10,000 Con Edison customers who have solar panels, only about 200 are in the company’s low income program.
Con Edison estimates the cost of the first phase of the program to be about $10 million.
Con Edison already has solar panels on its headquarters in Manhattan. Those panels produce 40 kilowatts of power to the building.