STATEN ISLAND, NY – If your business naturally benefits from an abundance of sunlight, has a flat, spacious roof, or your property contains a wealth of open, open space, the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC) want to connect. A new solar panel installation program could be right for your business and the community.
“The criteria for this initiative are quite simple: priority sites include structures that have a large flat surface to help reflect the sun, or possibly a spacious parking lot that may require overhead,” noted Niles French, senior vice-president. president of projects for the SIEDC. “We’ve already reviewed a handful of sites that meet these conditions, but we’re definitely looking for more.”
In partnership with Crauderueff Solar and OYA Solar, two companies with strong experience in developing solar projects across North America, the project aims to implement community solar and battery storage facilities throughout the borough, with particular emphasis on disadvantaged neighborhoods. The ultimate goal? A just transition to renewable energy resulting in at least 2 megawatts (MW) of community solar power and 100 low-to-median income (LMI) subscribers in Staten Island.
“We are thrilled to contribute to the mission of SIEDC, supporting the responsible and sustainable development of underserved communities on Staten Island,” said Manish Nayar, Founder and CEO of OYA Solar. “OYA Solar looks forward to developing these solar projects, furthering our commitment to providing equitable access to local, clean and cost-effective energy for low-to-moderate income businesses and neighborhoods.”
The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) recently awarded a $125,000 grant in support of this project through its Solar and Affordable Storage Predevelopment and Technical Assistance Program, which aims to removing barriers to solar and energy storage installations benefiting unserved LMI households. by traditional on-site residential solar power.
Five main results are expected from the collaboration:
— An analysis of borough-wide master plan opportunities, culminating in the creation of an inventory of existing solar and storage sites, and a survey of SIEDC members and large landowners to establish a baseline and identify potential early adopters of solar energy.
— Education and capacity building of at least 50 landowners around the borough, setting the stage for the first 2MW of solar leases, and many more MW to be developed borough-wide.
— Securing 2MW of lease commitments and developing partnerships with project lenders and investors for at least one site in Staten Island.
— Development of community solar opportunities for LMI areas, including several affordable housing providers, who share information and options available to these communities.
— A final roadmap report, as final recommendations added to the master plan, to replicate and scale borough-wide solar + storage + LMI community subscriptions.
The analysis began in February and is expected to last about a year. The topic will be discussed in more detail at the SIEDC ‘Energy Summit’, scheduled for late 2022. Commercial properties that have already signed up for the initiative include Rab’s Country Lanes and Island Charter. Zion Lutheran Church will also be part of the program.
French said the benefits for participating businesses are many, including lower utility rates and increased property values. Inclusion in such a program will also allow building owners to stay ahead of New York’s carbon emissions bill – Local Law 97 – which will require large commercial buildings in New York to meet carbon emission limits by 2024 or pay fines.
“Not all sites are perfect or eligible, but we encourage business owners to contact us so we can perform a flexible analysis,” French concluded. “We can identify challenges – such as lack of sunlight due to a canopy of trees – and see if they can be overcome. We are big advocates for charring and want people to focus on more than one resilience plan.