Lights Out Feared for NYC New Community Solar Projects as State Credits Fade
October 4, 2021
Con Ed estimates that about 9,000 customers receive 28 megawatts of power from 250 community solar installations in its service area, and more are coming online.
But there are just five megawatts’ worth of the community credit left for new solar projects to reserve — enough to support projects for only about another month, according to an estimate by Shyam Mehta, the outgoing executive director of New York Solar Energy Industries Association.
He called the credit the “most important incentive mechanism” for fostering community solar in the city, where residents have access to about a tenth of the sun-powered community projects of the rest of the state.
Solar panels dotted the Whole Foods parking lot in Gowanus, Brooklyn, Oct. 1, 2021.
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY
“Pretty much developers have stopped developing new community solar projects in New York City because they don’t know whether there is going to be any future incentive support,” Mehta said. “Without that incentive support, the economics of community solar just don’t pencil out right now in New York City.”
Without the credit, the value of solar will be cut in half, developers warn. They say it’s already hard to develop solar in the boroughs: Unlike sprawling areas upstate, the city’s solar projects tend to be smaller and more expensive, given the price of labor and trucking equipment into the city. Costs to get customers on board are high.