Fifth Avenue Committee, in partnership with Solar One and with support from Enterprise Community Partners, has launched Barrio Solar, a program to provide financial assistance to low- to-moderate income Brooklyn homeowners to help them install rooftop solar panels. Solar can help homeowners lower their Con Edison bills, lower their property/income taxes, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The campaign is open to all Brooklyn homeowners, and participants will receive free solar consultation from trusted non-profits and discounted pricing through a solar purchasing group. The first 25 low- to moderate-income homeowners that sign up will receive a campaign-specific incentive of $3,500 to apply towards the cost of solar panels or roof repairs, helping make solar affordable to the homeowners who can benefit most from the savings. Barrio Solar is also connecting homeowners who can’t install solar with local community solar projects that provide guaranteed utility bill savings.
We haven’t done a #ThrowbackThursday post in quite a while, but lately, Solar One and our partners have been making significant progress in bringing solar power to underserved communities in New York City. But surprisingly, that’s not as new an idea as one might think.
In 1839, a young physicist in France, Edmond Becquerel, discovered the photovoltaic effect— the process that produces voltage (essentially an electric current) when exposed to light or radiant energy. Following in his footsteps, French mathematician Augustin Mouchot continued his work and started registering patents for solar-powered devices as early as the 1860s. In the U.S., inventors filed for their own patents on solar-powered devices as early as 1888.
Con Edison is Solar One’s neighbor to the south, and they have been one of our most generous and consistent supporters over the years. But this month and in January, they are highlighting us as a Strategic Partner, and we couldn’t be more grateful.
The utility has a long tradition of contributing to and maintaining the social, cultural, and economic vitality of their service areas. Here’s what they have to say about it on their website:
“To do this, we’ve committed ourselves to providing financial or in-kind support to organizations whose activities advance strong, vibrant, and stable communities. We choose these groups carefully who focus on Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) education, environment, civics, community, and arts and culture, looking to their ability to use education, training, and special programs and events to enrich the quality of life of all New Yorkers.”
In addition to robustly supporting out Green Design Lab K-12 Education program, and being a lead sponsor for our much-missed Oktoberfest fundraising dinner, Con Ed is also a major supporter of our Green Workforce Training Program, as highlighted in the ads you may have seen recently in publications such as amNY, the NY Daily News, the NY Times and El Diario, and on Con Ed’s social media platforms. The campaign is being run in both English and Spanish.
There’s also a fundraising component to the campaign, which we’ll be announcing after the New Year. You can learn more about Con Edison’s work in the community as a Clean Energy Leader by visiting conEd.com/partnerships/. And once again, a big heartfelt Thank You to Con Edison for their continuous and robust support of Solar One!
December 15, 2020
On behalf of the staff and Board of Solar One, I sincerely hope this email finds you and your families well and safe. It has now been nine months since the patterns of what we used to consider normal life were altered by Covid-19. Now that 2020 is drawing to a close, and the first vaccines have been delivered to frontline health care workers, the light at the end of the tunnel is becoming visible…but with numbers of new cases and deaths spiking around the country, the situation may well get worse before it gets better. And things will never likely be exactly the same as they were before, in terms of the way we work, socialize and relax.
Most of the Solar One staff is still working from home, having regular team and staff meetings via teleconferencing, and are continuing to serve the communities that depend on us while keeping our staff, our students and trainees, and our partners from falling ill. The notable exception is the Park staff, who have been working onsite since June, and some of the Workforce instructors who have been conducting in-person hands-on training on a limited and necessary basis. I am very pleased to report that no one in our community has become sick with Covid. Everything we have been doing to keep ourselves, our volunteers and our trainees safe appears to be working.
Like virtually every nonprofit in NYC and around the country, many of our programs have been cancelled because they require in-person delivery. While this has had an effect on our budget, we have adapted and transformed many of our programs to meet the new reality of remote delivery. This is particularly true of our Workforce Training and Green Design Lab programs, both of which serve populations (public school students and workforce trainees) who often bear a disproportionate brunt of hardship in a severe financial downturn. To continue providing high-quality, practically useful information, education and training despite inhospitable conditions is a central part of Solar One’s mission.
Here are some of the ways we’ve been continuing our programs during this time of social distancing:
Our Green Design Lab team has been able to provide online environmental STEM curriculum and resources for NYC teachers and students that explore energy efficiency, climate change, and solar. Our Educators have organized and delivered webinars on topics like carbon neutrality, civic engagement and water education. The GDL team has also been delivering online professional development training through the NYC Solar Schools program, and developed a whole slate of online resources for environmental learning at the beginning of the Fall semester.
Stuyvesant Cove Park was the site of some hands-on workforce training this Fall, with small groups working on their carpentry skills on the Solar 1 stage. The Park and its visitors got to enjoy our first experiment in goatscaping, with twenty furry weed-eaters who did a fabulous job of cleaning up the out-of-control overgrowth in our Teaching Garden. Now that the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project is moving forward in earnest, big changes are coming to the Solar One blacktop and the Park. We’ll keep you updated on what those changes mean for our stewardship of the Park.
It may come as a surprise, but Covid has barely slowed our Workforce Training program down at all- people need job training now more than ever. We have continued delivering the online curriculum for one of our NYSERDA projects and have transitioned other courses like OSHA (occupational safety) and NABCEP (certifications for renewable energy practitioners) to be taken online. We also devised methods to offer hands-on training safely to smaller cohorts so we could continue helping people develop necessary job skills that can’t be taught entirely via remote learning.
As in the Spring, our CECP (NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities) program is continuing its emission reduction work with the NYC Mayor’s Office and Division of Energy Management remotely, helping with policy proposals and consulting with building owners and operators to get their buildings into compliance. We expect this program to continue unimpeded through the Winter and into next year.
Here Comes Solar is continuing to deliver solar technical assistance services for high-impact solar projects in NYC, as they have done throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. Our team continues to offer clients remote solar consultations, and has held multiple community solar outreach webinars to minimize face-to-face interactions and replace our usual outreach strategy. These have included informational webinars for every type of New Yorker, from low-income NYCHA residents to middle-income HDFC co-op owners to renters and owners of all income levels and backgrounds. To join a community solar initiative, please fill out the form at herecomessolar.nyc and someone from our team will follow up in 1-2 business days.
As with all of you, we still do not entirely know when the ground will settle or when we will be able to resume full in-person delivery of our programs. We have adapted well, as you can see, and will continue to keep up our communications with you through our weekly eNewsletter. But we’re having no trouble keeping busy, and will continue to do updates as we develop new plans and gather more information about what we might be able to expect in the coming months.
Stay safe and healthy,
New York City, NY – Through a program funded by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR), NYC nonprofit Solar One and its network of installers are helping volunteer emergency responders and community organizations keep the lights on during blackouts.
Whether triggered by unprecedented storms, heatwaves, or wildfires, blackouts are becoming increasingly common and hazardous. New Yorkers who weathered Superstorm Sandy understand better than most how challenging disaster recovery can be when the grid fails. But thanks to a new approach to disaster recovery, a few NYC community centers are about to become clean, resilient power hubs.
These projects are led by Solar One, an NYC non-profit dedicated to bringing clean energy to under-served urban communities. Solar One has received U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding to implement the Solar Power and Battery Back-up Program for Community Facilities. Together with GOSR, qualified installers, and community leaders, this Solar One program builds resilience in front-line communities for the battle against climate change.
When the power goes out, grid-tied solar installations automatically shut down to protect utility line workers from excess power feeding back into the grid. While there are thousands of solar installations deployed on buildings in NYC, only a tiny fraction can use their solar power during blackouts due to this safety measure. When paired with batteries, however, solar can safely disconnect from the grid while still providing onsite back-up power. Battery adoption has been slow in NYC due to high costs and nebulous regulations, but following years of diligent project development, research, and technical advances, solar + storage installations are finally moving forward.
Here’s how it works. The Solar One team identifies which community facilities are the best candidates for energy storage installations. Building location, availability of outdoor space, vulnerability to flooding and blackouts, and other infrastructure considerations are all assessed. Solar One issues a Request for Proposals to installers for the most viable of these sites, aggregating sites for scalability and impact. Finally, Solar One contracts with the most qualified installer and site owner and then serves as a fiscal liaison with GOSR, facilitating the projects from contracting to commissioning and supporting them wherever possible.
The first of these pioneering projects will be installed by Solar Liberty at four community facilities in Brooklyn and the Bronx:
- Birch Family Services (Brooklyn)
- Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance Corps (Brooklyn)
- Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps (The Bronx)
- Villa Maria Academy (The Bronx)
Once completed, these projects will provide reliable, renewable back-up power to the buildings during future blackouts, no matter how long they last. Each site will utilize this critical power supply according to its unique strengths. For example, in the case of Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps, maintaining building functions during blackouts so it can respond to neighborhood emergencies will be invaluable.
The nearby Villa Maria Academy has been a community hub for over 130 years. Ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, the school is keenly aware of its precarious location on the shore of Long Island Sound. A solar power and battery back-up installation will help Villa Maria offer refuge for hundreds of people during emergencies, providing lighting, cooling, device charging, and basic food services.
School Principal Sr. Teresa Barton says:
“When Superstorm Sandy knocked out our power, we had no way of servicing our students and community for about a week. We are so thankful to the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery for providing us with the solar power and energy storage that is necessary to avoid a similar circumstance in the future. We are also excited to reduce our environmental impact by using renewable energy.”
These initial projects are paving the way for many more of their kind in the future, including a second round of installations slated for development in late 2020. And these projects don’t just present a new model for resilience in the face of extreme weather events – they also foster awareness and enthusiasm for urban solar + storage installations. That means energy cost savings for neighborhood organizations, more renewable energy in under-served communities, and tangible steps mitigating the effects of climate change.
If you are in the solar or storage industry and interested in these projects, please join Solar One’s webinar on Monday, November 18th to learn more and discuss cultivating resilience in vulnerable communities. Please sign up here to join.
For more information contact:
Solar One Communications Manager
The Big Apple knows how to do big. Freshkills Park in Staten Island, formerly the world’s largest landfill, is slowly but surely being transformed into New York City’s largest park. It will provide reaction and aesthetic value, but the new park will also become the city’s largest solar farm.