Solarize Warwick was a 2015 campaign by Sustainable Warwick to encourage people to install solar electric panels on their homes through community-wide education, pre-qualified installation partners and group purchasing discounts. After the program ended in 2015, it was extended 3 more years as Solarize Orange through a partnership between Orange County and various statewide organizations. This ended in late 2017. Sustainable Warwick currently offers only advice and information to people who are interested in solar installations. This includes information on individual home installations, on community solar installations, and on choice of contractors.
Lease or Buy?
Consumer Reports (August 2016 issue) provided very useful information about the difference in cost between buying and leasing. From their data, it is clear that buying a solar system has by far the best payback. Generally, it is better not to lease unless there is no other choice. A comparison of costs between buying or leasing for Community Solar has not yet been established, to our knowledge.
Individual Installation or Community Solar?
Many people do not have the option of putting solar on their roof or property. There may be too much shade or the roof may be facing the wrong direction. Community Solar is a way of having “virtual solar panels” on your roof. You simply buy or lease panels at a nearby solar farm. You still get zero net metering which means the output of your purchased or leased panels is credited to your bill monthly. Once a year, the excess, if any, is zeroed out, with a payment from your utility. Community Solar is open to a wide range of users, including homeowners, renters, businesses, non-profits, etc.
How to Get Started
Individual Installation: Contact 3 companies that have provided Solarize programs in the Hudson Valley or elsewhere. These companies have been vetted by the state and other organizations so you can expect excellent quality service and results. They will verify that your roof or property is suitable with enough solar access. They often do this remotely via satellite imagery. They then have a site visit where a solar consultant will determine what you want and outline the possibilities. This takes about an hour of your time. They then email you a spreadsheet and bid with the economic and technical data. If you are happy with that, you can move to contract and get it installed. The installation may take 1 or 2 days. We recommend evaluating at least three bids before deciding. Be sure that the bids are comparable by giving them the same data about what you want.
Community Solar Installation: Contact community solar vendors and information sources listed in this sheet. Since this is a new option, it is very important to get several bids if possible, compare offers, and look at the differences.
Generally, prices have been decreasing over the past few years. The tax credits from NYS and the Federal government are likely as good as they will ever be. You can expect a final price after subsidies of about $3 to $3.50 a watt or even less. A typical size installation is 5000 watts or 5 kW and will cost around $15,000 to $17,500. Tax credits will reduce this by 55%. Typical payback time is around 5 years after tax credits. (The tax credits are scheduled to be decreased in a few years). If you do a ground mount or community solar, you can expect to pay more than if it is mounted on your roof.
These are some of the companies Solarize Warwick, Solarize Orange and other Warwick residents have used:
- New York State Solar Farm www.nyssf.com
- Direct Solar Energy www.directenergysolar.com
- Apex Solar www.apexsolarpower.com
- SunCommon www.suncommon.com
Community Solar Companies
Companies setting up Community Solar installations have been increasing in the past year or so, and are likely to increase in the future. One limitation is that the Community Solar installation must feed into the grid system of your utility company.
Mid-Hudson Community Solar information sources are:
- Hudson Solar www.hsce.com Has installed Community Solar in Chester, NY
- Sustainable Hudson Valley www.shv.org Provides information about Community Solar in the mid-Hudson region.
For More Information
See also NYSERDA’s website on Community Solar.
For further information or questions, contact members of the Solarize Warwick committee
Bill Makofske 845-986-9477
Michael Helme 845-665-1574