The Community Power project was selected as a Grand Prize winner for the Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar, an initiative of the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP).
NCSP, a program of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), supports a coalition of stakeholders working to expand access to affordable community solar to every U.S. household and enable communities to realize meaningful benefits, such as greater household savings, low- to moderate-income (LMI) household access, increased resilience, community ownership, and equitable workforce development. NCSP is working toward a 2025 target to enable community solar to power the equivalent of 5 million households and generate a cumulative $1 billion in energy bill savings.
The Sunny Awards were launched in 2022 to recognize community solar projects and programs that employ best practices to increase equitable access to the meaningful benefits of community solar for subscribers and their communities. Meaningful benefits are key outcomes of community solar development identified by the NCSP. These community solar benefits bring positive impacts to the households, organizations, and the surrounding communities where the projects are developed and operate.
- Project Name: Community Power: Jobs & Savings for LMI Households
- Location: Brooklyn & Manhattan, NY
- Project Size: 1.2 MW
- Project Subscribers: 500 residential subscribers
- Year Energized: 2021
- Lead Organization: CEC Stuyvesant Cove, Inc. dba Solar One
- Partner Organizations: WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Brooklyn Movement Center, The NYC Community Energy Co-op, Sunwealth, Accord Power, Green City Force, Con Edison, New York City Housing Authority
- Business Model: third-party partnership flip (owned by a mission-driven for-profit entity for ten years, then ownership can potentially be transfered to cooperative model)
- State or Utility Program Leveraged: ConEdison Reforming the Energy Vision Initiative
- Bill savings: 20% discount on bill credits
- LMI access: 100%
Meaningful Benefits Best Practices
Community Power is a 1.2 MW project developed across 40 different New York City Housing Authority buildings that delivers guaranteed electricity bill savings of 20% to 500 low- to moderate-income households. This project leverages the power of partnerships, working across nonprofits, community-based organizations, mission-driven financiers, an energy cooperative, the nation’s largest public housing entity, a solar installer, and a utility. This project is subscribed entirely by low- to moderate-income households.
Local community-based organizations, WE ACT for Environmental Justice and the Brooklyn Movement Center, engaged residents and community members through a neighborhood-based approach. These community-based organizations worked in multiple languages with community boards, tenant associations, affordable housing and social service providers, and elected officials to build trust and awareness, ultimately helping them subscribe the full project, with a 50-person waiting list.
Beyond bill savings, this project provided workforce training through a Green Apprenticeship Program led by Solar One and Green City Force. Twenty-five public housing residents participated in a 3-week training program with Solar One. Twelve of those residents were hired to install the Community Power project over 9 months. Following the installation, 3 residents were hired for full-time positions with the project installer, Accord Power, a minority-owned business, and 2 were hired by other solar installers.
All the subscribers to this project also become members of the NYC Community Energy Co-op, giving them access to other energy initiatives the co-op pursues and voting rights towards future projects. After 10 years, they will have the opportunity to purchase the Community Power project from the current owner Sunwealth, and become member-owners.