The villages of Brockport and Lima have activated the first solar community opt-out program in the United States. Part of Joule’s Finger Lakes Community Choice Program, the groundbreaking offering has been made available to more than 3,800 households and small businesses and will reduce residents’ electricity bills by up to 10% over the next 25 years.
Brockport and Lima are partnering with six local community solar parks, expected to generate 35 million kWh annually. As each farm starts generating power, residents who subscribe to that farm will receive savings. The solar farms are expected to be commissioned in October 2021 – all residents will be covered by spring 2022.
All eligible residents are automatically enrolled in the program without having to sign a contract, undergo a credit screening, or have solar panels installed on their homes. Should a resident wish to unsubscribe from the program, he/she is free to do so at any time and without penalty.
This structure will enable municipal leaders to extend access to solar community benefits to all of their constituents, including low-to-middle-income (LMI) residents who have historically been unable to take advantage of traditional opt-in. community solar or community choice programs for electricity supply due to government regulation and socio-economic barriers. Of the 3,800 eligible customers in the Finger Lakes Community Choice solar opt-out program, more than 200 are low-income households and about 300 are middle-income. Going forward, LMI residents will remain the first eligible to receive solar credits within a municipality.
In addition to its community solar opt-out program, Finger Lakes Community Choice also launched a community electricity utility program, which will provide residents and businesses in Brockport and Lima with 100% renewable energy enabled for the next two years. by New York State run-of-river hydropower. As with community solar, customers can opt out or leave the electricity supply program at any time without penalty.
“Our mission is and remains to give municipalities a say in the origin of their energy supply. This groundbreaking program will benefit nearly every resident of Brockport and Lima,” said Jessica Stromback, CEO of Joule Assets. “Unfortunately, a pending regulatory proposal, ‘Expanded Solar for All’, jeopardizes the future of similar projects. If passed in the fall, National Grid would gain a de facto monopoly on the community solar market, reducing the power of local municipalities to drive renewable energy growth from scratch.
While the pending proposal, jointly submitted by NYSERDA and National Grid, aims to expand community solar access to LMI residents enrolled with HEAP, it closes approximately 65% of LMI New Yorkers. who are not enrolled in the program. Solar opt-out community choice programs can benefit a much larger number of LMI residents.
The public comment period for the E-SFA proposal closed on August 23 with 277 submissions from a wide range of stakeholders, including CCA municipalities, solar developers and concerned citizens, representing 98% of the total feedback. The Public Service Commission is expected to vote on the proposal later this fall.
“Community choice aggregation has long been our goal and through this partnership with Joule, we finally have a program that will benefit our residents from guaranteed savings and help New York achieve its clean energy goals,” added the Lima Deputy Mayor, John Wadach, ready. “The fact that our residents can reap both financial and environmental benefits without having to take any action makes our efforts worthwhile. We hope that other municipalities will also make their voices heard and offer similar programs for the benefit of their residents.”
News item from Joule Assets