Thanks to a new initiative called Solarize NYC, installing solar power on your New York City home, business, or community institution is about to get a whole lot cheaper and easier. Sponsored jointly by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the City University of New York’s Sustainable CUNY, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Solarize NYC is designed to further jumpstart the burgeoning New York City solar market—which has grown by an impressive 300 percent since January 2014—and to help the city meet its all-important goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
Here’s the especially good news: Because Solarize NYC is built on the very successful Solarize collective purchasing model, it will likely cut solar costs for participants and their neighbors by a full 10 to 20 percent, just as other Solarize programs around the country have since the first program got its start, in 2009. Solarize programs make these cost reductions possible by bringing people, businesses, and community institutions together to procure solar as a group. In doing so, it lowers customer acquisition costs for solar installers, creates economies of scale, and allows installers to use their crews more efficiently and effectively.
Solarize NYC doesn’t just convene interested people and organizations. It also provides technical expertise, vets solar developers and installers, and helps ensure quality. Using this model, financial savings accrue to participating Solarize customers, for sure. But the effect is even more powerful: Studies show that once a Solarize program comes to a particular community, solar prices tend to stay down even after a Solarize campaign has wrapped up.
By definition, Solarize programs are community-led, usually by at least two or three volunteer organizers within any given community. New York groups that want in on Solarize NYC—groups of neighbors, employees of the same company, members of houses of worship, and other Big Apple communities—can express their interest by filing a letter of intent through the Solarize NYC website. This letter allows groups to get the ball rolling. And more than that: It enables them to customize their Solarize programs to meet their groups’ particular interests and needs. Want to work with a local installer, rather than a national one? The RFP can be tailored to make that happen. The same goes for using American-made solar panels, or supporting a woman- or minority-owned business.
New York City is one of the country’s first municipalities to support Solarize campaigns directly, and with good reason. The program can help create good-paying, local jobs, reduce stress on our electric grid, help us all breathe cleaner air, and help the city, the nation, and the world meet our climate goals. Imagine: All this, just by making it easier for neighbors, coworkers, and friends to buy solar together.