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Frequently asked questions

General FAQs

The project is full — please fill out the form on our home page to join our Standby List on our home page and we will contact you in the order your entry was received.

What is Community Power?

Community Power is a program where low-to-moderate income households in New York City save money on their electric bills with community solar. Participants will save on average $10 per month on energy expenses and automatically become members of NYC CEC.

There are three NYCHA housing developments where the solar systems are installed: Carver Houses in Northern Manhattan and Glenwood and Kingsborough Houses in Central Brooklyn.

The Community Power team is composed of local non-profits Solar One, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, the Brooklyn Movement Center, and Green City Force, along with a consumer-owned energy cooperative, Co-op Power, project owner Sunwealth, and Con Edison is a sponsoring partner.

Sunwealth will develop and finance the project and will pass along management to the New York City Community Energy Cooperative. Solar One provided technical assistance in the development of the project. Additionally, Community Power enlisted community-based non-profits WE ACT for Environmental Justice and the Brooklyn Movement Center led community outreach. Green City Force, another local non-profit that coordinated workforce training program. Con Edison sponsored the project with the goals of providing access to new technology, innovative solutions, and clean sources of generation like solar, affordability, the ability of LMI customers to manage or reduce their energy costs, and creating a positive impact in LMI communities through job creation, reduced GHG, etc.

What is community solar?

A form of energy production that uses the sun, and allows individual households to share a group of solar energy panels and receive a solar energy credit directly on their individual electric bills. Usually, community solar projects share one solar energy system installed on a large roof, such as a warehouse. Community Power is unique in that the project is comprised of systems installed on three NYCHA campuses.

Historically, getting solar energy was only feasible for homeowners with adequate roofs with the ability to pay for or finance the system. Homeowners with limited spending capital or poor roof space, as well as renters, were not able to access solar energy. Community solar allows anyone who pays a Con Edison bill to subscribe to a solar project in another location and receive credits on their Con Edison bill at no cost. Community solar is great because it breaks down the main barriers to benefiting from solar energy: ability to purchase, roof feasibility, and lack of home ownership.

Community solar projects are owned and administered by private companies or non-profits. In the case of Community Power, Sunwealth is the system owner, and the New York City Community Energy Co-op will lead participant management.

The households that share the projects are usually referred to as “participants”. See below for information on subscriptions.

Where are the systems located?

Community Power’s solar capacity of 1.2 MW is spread throughout three NYCHA campuses: Carver in East Harlem, Kingsborough in Bed-Stuy, and Glenwood in Canarsie.

Who owns the project?

Sunwealth is the project owner.

Ongoing project operations will be handled by NYC CEC, including customer service participant management.

Although the systems are installed on NYCHA buildings, NYCHA does not have any ownership in the project; they are simply leasing their rooftop space to Sunwealth. Sunwealth is paying NYCHA for their rooftop space; lease payments are invested in projects that improve residents’ quality of life.

The Community Power team also trained about thirty NYCHA residents in green construction and solar installation skills, and Accord Power hired twelve of the trainees to work on the solar project. WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and the Brooklyn Movement Center led participant outreach in their local communities. Green City Force, another local non-profit, is coordinating a workforce training program.

Is there maintenance with the solar installation? Who handles that?

Solar panels require minor maintenance, but the owner of the solar project, Sunwealth, will have the ability to monitor the output of the panels remotely and will see if any maintenance is required. Participants will not be responsible for any costs related to maintenance or repairs of the solar energy equipment.

Signing Up

Who can sign up?

Enrollment in the project is currently closed. If you’re interested in joining, please sign up for our Standby List by clicking this link.

Eligible participants:

• Must live in NYCHA or income-restricted affordable housing
• Must be directly-metered Con Edison customer
• Be current on their Con Edison bill

Is there an income limitation?

Yes, this project is limited to low-to-moderate income households in New York City. Community Power can easily verify income requirements for residents of income-restricted affordable housing. Other low-and-moderate income households may need to provide alternative proof of income eligibility.

Can homeowners, renters, and small businesses all sign up? Is there an allocated split for each type of subscriber?

No, participants in the Community Power project will be exclusively low-to-moderate income residents who pay their own Con Edison bill.

How many people can subscribe? Where is the cut off?

Community Power is currently fully subscribed with 453 participants.

Is there any upfront cost?

No, there is no upfront cost to join the Community Power project.

What if I have an ESCO? Do I have to cancel my contract with them?

As long as you receive your ESCO charges on your Con Edison bill, you do not need to cancel your ESCO contract. In some cases, the ESCO sends a separate bill, and in this case you will need to cancel your ESCO contract if you want to be a subscriber to Community Power.

Can NYCHA residents subscribe?

NYCHA residents who pay a Con Edison energy bill are able to participate in Community Power.

Community Power Subscription Details

How does a community solar subscription work?

Each month, the solar panels will produce energy. Since you are participating in the program, part of the energy is yours. The energy then gets converted to dollars and appears on your Con Edison bill as a credit or “adjustment”.

If, for the unlikely occasion that no energy is produced and no credits are generated, your Con Edison bill stays the same, and you owe nothing to Community Power.

Your participation includes membership in the New York City Community Energy Co-op. More information on the co-op can be found below.

What is the subscription term?

The current subscription term is 20 years, however, you may cancel your subscription with no cancellation fee as long as you provide Community Power 30 days’ notice. Failure to provide 30 days’ notice may result in the need to bill for any credits earned in the subsequent month.

What happens after the 20-year subscription term?

The roof lease with NYCHA will end, and the NYC Community Energy Co-op and NYCHA will determine whether or not to continue the project.

Is it one subscription per household? What about a multi-family house?

Solar subscriptions are tied to a single Con Edison account. So, for example, if you live in a multi-family house with 3 electric bills you will have 3 subscriptions.

Memberships to the New York City Community Energy Co-op can either tied to an account or family unit. In the example above, a three-family home where all residents are members of the same family can choose to have one membership into the NYC CEC or three separate memberships. Our team can help you determine which option is best for your household.

Would the discount fluctuate based on the month? What would cause it to change?

No, the discount will remain 20%.

Why does Con Edison allow participants to lower their electric bills?

To incentivize the growth of solar across the state, utilities are mandated to compensate solar projects for energy that is produced and exported to the grid, per the Value of Distributed Energy Resources Order. Community solar allows a single project to split up Con Edison’s compensation for solar among multiple households (subscribers). Con Edison will provide a monetary credit on a subscriber’s bill for their share of electricity produced on a monthly basis.

How are the participants protected if something happens to the solar installation? What happens if repairs need to be made to the solar energy system?

Because solar energy systems require very little maintenance, we don’t expect many issues with the operation of the systems. During construction, the installer will ensure that the solar energy systems will be built to withstand any weather events, such as high winds, and other standards as required by the Department of Building, FDNY, and other relevant authorities. The solar equipment also carries a manufacturer’s warranty, so in the event of equipment failure, the installer will be able to replace the equipment. Repairs, replacements, and other issues with the system will not be charged to subscribers—you will still receive credits at a 20% discount.

In the unlikely event that the solar panels are damaged and cannot produce electricity temporarily, customers may not see a credit while the equipment is being repaired, and their Con Edison charges will not decrease (as was the case before signing up for community solar). Community Power will make all efforts to restore operations as quickly as possible.

How many bills will I receive?

You will only receive your Con Edison bill. The only new feature will be a line item, “adjustments” that subtracts the solar credit from your total charges.

Are there other solar projects for residents to subscribe to at the moment?

If someone who is not low-to-moderate income wants to participate in community solar, Solar One can assist with finding a suitable project. They can visit Solar One’s community solar page, fill out the form, and a Solar One employee will follow up.

NYC Community Energy Co-op

What does the co-operative structure look like?

The NYC Community Energy Co-op (CEC) is one of Co-op Power’s regional energy cooperatives. Co-op Power, the developer and financier for Community Project, is a decentralized network of energy co-ops in the Northeast, where members come together to create a more sustainable and just energy future by pooling capital, purchasing power, and voting power to own and control energy resources. Other Co-op Power energy co-ops are present in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

The NYC Community Energy Co-op (CEC) is made up of households, small businesses and organizations that pay energy bills in NYC—most are subscribers in community solar projects operated by the co-op and their community partners. For now, these projects include Community Power. Membership in the cooperative grants a vote in future project decisions and NYC CEC initiatives funded by the cooperative.

The members control and direct the activities of the Community Energy Cooperative depending on the projects, programs, products and services needed in the community.

How does it work?

The NYC Community Energy Co-op is a place where community members meet, discuss and plan projects that will produce their products and services. Community members learn how to create local jobs and worker-owned businesses that keep dollars local instead of going to developers. Members will hold regular meetings to discuss community needs, discuss products and services needed, and vote on which projects to pursue using membership contributions.

What rights do members have?

  • Vote at membership meetings
  • Serve on member work groups
  • Transfer membership to a member of their immediate family
  • Participate in member meetings and activities
  • Elect representation on the CEC board and the regional Co-op Power Board

Participation in meetings and votes is highly encouraged but not required.