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De Blasio Administration Launches New Group Solar Purchasing Campaign and Continues to Spur Adoption Citywide

To further accelerate adoption of solar energy, the de Blasio administration announced a new community group purchasing campaign that will serve the community of Brownsville, Brooklyn. The campaign is part of Solarize NYC, a citywide program administered by the NYC Solar Partnership and designed to increase adoption of solar in communities that have historically lacked access to clean energy.

“We’re expanding access to solar across the city, and are thrilled to now include Brownsville in our community solar group purchasing program,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Through Solarize and other initiatives, we have already quintupled the solar capacity of New York City. We are well on our way to the goal of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050, and are building a cleaner, healthier and fairer city for all.”

Solarize NYC campaigns are one of several City-led efforts underway in support of the Mayor’s goal of installing 1 gigawatt of solar capacity citywide by 2030 – enough to power 250,000 homes. Since the start of the de Blasio administration, solar power has more than quintupled, providing more than 140 megawatts (MW) of electricity and directly supporting more than 2,700 jobs across the five boroughs. Another 60MW are in the process of being installed.

For the group purchasing campaign in Brownsville, the NYC Solar Partnership, led by Sustainable CUNY in collaboration with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, selected Nehemiah Economic Development Inc. (NED). As part of the campaign, the NYC Solar Partnership will work alongside NED and Brownsville community leaders to design a tailored program that will provide group discounts to qualifying residents for solar panels that can power Brownsville with affordable, carbon-free power. The award includes technical assistance from CUNY solar ombudsmen, funding support for staff of NED to lead the campaign, and marketing and outreach plans tailored to the needs of the Brownsville community.

Last spring, the city announced the first round of Solarize NYC campaigns. These launches build upon the success of the 2015 NYSolar Smart Solarize Brooklyn CB6 pilot program, through which 26 contracts were signed for a total of 141 kilowatts of solar power. Overall, Solarize campaigns are expected to lower costs by 10 to 20 percent.

While the latest Solarize NYC campaign is getting up and running in Brownsville, the first community shared solar projects are going live throughout the city. Community shared solar enables renters and others who cannot install solar panels on their own rooftops to subscribe to shares of electric generation from a solar array elsewhere in New York City. Two such projects are now coming online in East New York, featuring more than 1 MW in combined capacity and providing solar energy to more than 200 customers, roughly 50% of whom will be low-to-moderate income New Yorkers. These projects are developed and owned by Daroga Power. Additional community shared solar projects will soon begin operation elsewhere in the city, including two projects from Clean Choice Energy in Brooklyn (one of which currently accepting subscribers), a project by SunPower and Project Economics in Maspeth that is fully subscribed, and several projects by OnForce Solar in the Bronx and Staten Island that will soon accept subscribers. Other community shared solar projects seeking to enroll subscribers are encouraged to email nysolar@cuny.edu.

“New York City continues to lead the fight against climate change. We’re lowering greenhouse gas emissions, preparing for rising seas and more intense storms, and taking the fight directly to the fossil fuel interests that have caused this problem,” said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC’s Senior Director for Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer. “Today’s announcement expanding Solarize into Brownsville is one more way that we are leading the charge and helping to build the fairest big city in America. Thanks to Nehemiah Economic Development Inc. for their partnership as we expand access to clean, affordable solar power across the city.”

“Expanding solar energy in NYC is about more than cheaper and cleaner electricity, it's a powerful emblem that illustrates our City’s commitment to transition to a green economy while becoming a more just city," said Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.

“It is extremely exciting to witness how the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, EDC and CUNY are teaming up with local organizations to increase solar awareness in historically disenfranchised communities. N.E.D is proud to lead a campaign of this magnitude within Brownsville, which harmoniously combines youth education, workforce development and community engagement. Only through innovative & progressive actions can we truly SHINE LIGHT about the wonderful benefits of solar energy,” said Mawuli K. Hormeku, Executive Director of Nehemiah Economic Development, Inc.

"As America’s largest urban university CUNY is leveraging its expertise in partnership with diverse communities to mitigate the economic and environmental threats posed by climate change," said Tria Case, City University of New York Director of Sustainability and Energy Conservation and lead for the NYC Solar Partnership. "Our Solar Ombudsmen are implementing solarize and community shared solar programs to expand access to clean and renewable energy across New York City and we are excited to be working with our partners in Brownsville."

“Investing in clean energy technologies like solar is critical to building strong neighborhoods,” said NYCEDC President James Patchett. “The Solarize NYC campaign provides solar energy to communities like Brownsville, which have historically lacked access. We look forward to expanding this important partnership and testing the boundaries for implementing new sustainable solutions throughout the city.”

“Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is critical to protecting our environment, and it is a key mission of my office’s Renewable and Sustainable Energy Taskforce (ReSET). I applaud the de Blasio administration for expanding the Solarize NYC campaign to Brownsville, an area of Brooklyn that has historically lacked access to clean, low-cost, and sustainable energy sources. Community shared solar projects ensure that our borough’s residents, from Downtown Brooklyn to East New York, can be a part of the wider movement to reducing greenhouse gases while also lowering energy costs for low-income families,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee, said, “This new community group solar purchasing campaign will help encourage solar energy use. The NYC Solar Partnership will bring discounts, technical assistance, and marketing and outreach to underserved communities in Brownsville. These types of public-private partnerships which increase renewable energy availability in neighborhoods that have historically lacked that access will help our city meet our goal of reducing emissions 80% by 2050. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this important renewable energy issue.”

"As a newly elected representative of Brownsville i am pleased to work with the Mayor on his NYC Solar partnership. This initiative will provide clean energy to Brownsville addressing while healthcare disparities related to carbon emissions. I look forward to the continued expansion of solarizing Brownsville,” said Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel.

“As the Chair of the Subcommittee on Renewable Energy and the proud representative of one of the first districts in Brooklyn to provide the option of solar power to over 200 homes, I applaud the mayor for extending this opportunity to other residents of Brownsville in an effort to conserve energy as well as lower costs and promote sustainability to consumers,” said Assembly Member Latrice Walker.

“Community shared solar opens up a wealth of new opportunities for all New Yorkers, particularly those living in apartments.” said Rory Christian, Director, New York Clean Energy at Environmental Defense Fund. “Access to clean energy for Brownsville residents can directly benefit their community by lowering electricity bills and creating jobs.”

About NYC Solar Partnership
Led by Sustainable CUNY of the City University of New York, the NYC Solar Partnership was formed in 2006 with partner organizations the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. With policy and funding support from the City, the NYC Solar Partnership works to expand access to clean, reliable, and affordable solar energy for all New Yorkers and promote a robust marketplace for solar energy in New York City.