NYSolar Smart Group Purchasing

NYSolar Smart Solarize and NYSolar Smart SunShares are completed pilot programs for New Yorkers that aimed to greatly reduce the costs of installing solar by leveraging the collective purchasing power of a group of homeowners or employees interested in going solar, whether they live in a single or multi-family dwelling. People all over the country are buying solar in bulk and saving money in the process, a classic ‘economy of scale’ that works on many levels. Often called “solar bulk purchase”, “solar group purchase”, “SunShare”, or “Solarize,” these programs help guide groups of homeowners as they purchase solar systems together. The benefits include both cost savings and programmatic support. For example, a large portion of the cost of a residential system is the cost to installers of finding customers. Group Purchasing programs bring pre-screened customers directly to an installer, allowing the installer to pass the savings on to the participants. Additionally, the support the group provides each participant makes it easier to evaluate quotes from installers and to navigate permit requirements, incentive programs, and the local utility. More information: Department of Energy Guide <pdf>.

Pilot programs

Under these pilot programs, the NYSolar Smart team guided Brooklyn Community Board 6 (CB6), Huntington NY and committed employers as they decide on their project goals and a time frame for residents/business owners/employees to sign up for their campaign. Sustainable CUNY worked with the partners to issue a ‘Request for Proposal’ (RFP) to solar installers, laying out the goals of the project and requesting price bids. Contractors were been selected for each campaign,but each participant owns their own system and signs their own contract with the installer. Homeowners or business owners who participated could either purchase the solar electricity systems directly or enter into a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) with the installer. Under a lease or PPA, the installer will own, operate and maintain the system, while the homeowner agrees to purchase the power generated by the system at an agreed-upon rate. Under the lease or PPA option, the installer will offer a discount or cash back as higher tiers are reached. Please see the Case Studies to the left for each of the campaigns.

Solarize Brooklyn CB6: Sun For All

Encouraged by the success of the first Solarize Brooklyn CB6 pilot in 2015, Brooklyn Community Board 6 applied for and was selected to participate in Community Solar NY, a program supported by Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative that will make investing in solar power easier and more affordable for local residents and businesses. “Solarize Brooklyn CB6: Sun For All” is unique as it offers two opportunities for residents and business owners to participate: Community Shared Solar aimed at renters and those without a viable roof for solar; and Here Comes Solar, a group purchasing program.

nyc solarize

Based on the lessons learned from the Brooklyn CB6 campaign, the NYC Solar Partnership will launch ‘Solarize NYC’, a citywide program designed to increase access to solar through multiple solar group purchasing campaigns over the next 9 years. The NYC Solar Partnership is led by Sustainable CUNY who works collaboratively with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and the City University of New York (CUNY) to promote an equitable and self-sustaining solar market in pursuit of the city’s goal of increasing the capacity of solar energy on public and private properties to 100 MW and 250 MW, respectively.