Just as the days are getting shorter, Central Hudson has released a proposal for the coming year that, if approved, could lead to a rate hike of 7.5-11.6%, along with a handful of dubious double-digit charges that threaten to devastate the many who already struggle to keep their lights on — let alone their stove tops, breast pumps, and nebulizers.
Hudson Valley residents are already charged the highest utility rates in New York State, and we refuse to let corporate greed leave our neighbors in the dark.
You are encouraged to come speak out at Kingston City Halltomorrow,Tuesday, October 10th. Information sessions will be held at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., followed respectively by public hearings at 3 and 7 p.m.
Only have a few minutes? The NYS Department of Public Service has a quick-to-access comment page, and Citizens for Local Power has made this handy shareable FAQ. Thank you for stepping up even when you can’t head out!
Citizen Action of the Hudson Valley
Central Hudson (Fortis) has proposed a new rate plan for 2017-2018 that contains a number of questionable spending items and calls for an increase in fixed charges to customers—already the highest in the state—as well as a new type of residential customer charge. The Public Service Commission is holding two public hearings on this plan at Kingston City Hall, Council Chambers, on Tuesday, October 10. Information sessions begin at 2 pm and 6 pm, followed by public hearings at 3 pm and 7 pm.
We need to fill the room and make our voices heard!
Are you considering a solar energy system for your home or business in New York, but want to know more about the costs and benefits before making a decision? In this article we look at the reasons why going solar is a good idea in New York, and also examine the various incentives and financing options that may be available to you if you are a New York resident.
How much do solar panels cost in New York in 2017?
The average solar panel system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts, so to get a range for the average price of solar in New York we examined average prices for 5kW systems after tax rebates. The current price range is between $9,791 – $14,356 in Florida, far below the national average for cost of solar of $12,500, once the additional state incentives are included.
New York state already a leader in solar energy
New York is no slouch when it comes to solar – it ranks in the top 10 solar states in terms of total installed solar capacity. And even bigger things are in store for solar’s future in the Empire State: With the introduction of its progressive Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceedings, New York state is making strides to turn itself into a solar powerhouse.
Additionally, the NY Sun Initiative (which will eventually be brought under the REV policy umbrella) has set a goal of 3 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity to be installed in the state by 2023 – that’s more than eight times the 338 megawatts (MW) currently installed. How is it going to reach this goal? By encouraging market growth making sure that solar systems continue to be a financially attractive option for homes and businesses across the state.
More and more New Yorkers are discovering that solar makes sense for them. Here are some of the reasons why:
Solar panels will increase the value of your property: If you purchase your system outright or finance it with a loan, your system will increase the value of your property by about 3%. More and more studies demonstrate that this is the case. A recent study by the Berkley National Laboratory confirms that the nation-wide trend also applies to New York homes.
Solar helps you cut your greenhouse gas emissions in New York: By going solar you will also reduce your carbon emissions. Utility electricity in New York comes primarily from burning natural gas (as per the graph below). Natural gas, while ‘cleaner’ than coal, is still a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. (Read more about the environmental benefits of going solar.)
A breakdown of electricity generation in New York State by source for the year 2013. Note that solar energy barely registers – so far.
Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of going solar? Check out our comprehensive resource on the topic: Why go solar?
The 3 best ways to go solar in New York
Going solar is a great way for New York residents to save money, as we’ve noted above. And thanks to the state’s growing rooftop solar market, there are likely to be lots of solar installation companies competing for your business, no matter what part of the state you live in.
There are three main ways that you can go solar in New York. All of these options are available in New York State through various solar installation and financing companies. They are:
Additionally, if you do not have a roof of your own (e.g. because you rent your house or live in an apartment block), joining a community solar garden is now a popular option for solar shoppers in New York thanks to Governor Cuomo’s efforts!
Hudson Valley walkers to trace proposed Pilgrim Pipelines route: 170 miles, 13 days, from Mahwah NJ to Albany and Grafton, NY
Kingston, NY – Beginning Saturday, July 22nd 2017, internationally renowned environmental and human rights activist Jun Yasuda, Buddhist nun in residence at the Grafton, NY Peace Pagoda, will embark upon a 170 mile, 13 day prayer walk protesting the proposed Pilgrim oil pipelines and praying to protect water, health, climate and peace.
WHO: Municipal officials, faith leaders, members of the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines (CAPPNY), and participants from diverse cultural backgrounds, including Ramapough Lenape, Mohican, and Lakota, will launch the walk together and traverse communities directly in the Pilgrim pipelines’ proposed route in New York including Harriman, Tuxedo, Newburgh, New Paltz, Esopus, Highland, Kingston, Saugerties, Catskill, Coxsackie, Bethlehem, and Albany.
WHAT: The Water Walk for Life launches with a dramatic three-hour ceremony followed by up to 50 walkers traveling the first day together. Walkers will travel on average 10 – 15 miles/day.
WHERE: The opening ceremony is at the Ramapough Lenape Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp in Mahwah, New Jersey near Ramapo College. The first leg is short, to Sloatsburg NY.
WHEN:Saturday, July 22nd Walk Launch Water Protection Ceremony: 10 AM – 1 PM
Day 1 Walk Mahwah, NJ – Sloatsburg, NY 1 PM – 4 PM; evening speaker Geoff Welch
Day 2, Sunday July 23rd, Walk 8 AM to Harriman (overnight in Cornwall)
Day 3, Monday July 24th, Walk 8 AM to Washingtonville (village) in Blooming Grove (town)
Day 4, Tuesday July 25th, Walk 8 AM to Walden
Day 5, Tuesday July 26th, Walk 8 AM through Gardiner to New Paltz, NY; potluck dinner 5:30-7 PM at New Paltz Friends Meeting House; speakers. Welcomed by New Paltz Supervisor Neil Bettez, New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers, Rosendale Councilwoman Jen Metzger.
Days 6-7, Wednesday July 27th, Walk 8 AM to Kingston, NY; welcomed by Unitarian Congregation of the Catskills; REST DAY July 28th; Potluck dinner/ program, Friday July 28th
Calling all frontline and local artists along the Hudson River and the Bakken Crude Oil Supply Chain! We are seeking storytellers, musicians, visual artists, documentarians of all kinds, and cultural organizers to apply to join a “Floating Artivist* Residency”aboard Solar Sal, a 40- foot all-solar boat that will journey down the Hudson River from Troy to Newburgh, NY from July 13 – 23, 2017. Along the way, artists will be facilitated in meeting with local communities along the river and this supply chain, to exchange stories – and build networks – of resistance and resilience in the age of the climate crisis. Participating artists will be supported in the investigation, creation and sharing of new work about New York’s waterways and their relationships to fossil fuel transportation and our changing climate.
Our focus is to utilize the languages of art and creativity to lift-up and make visual the front line stories of resistance to fossil fuel infrastructure, as well as the community resilience to climate change, along the Hudson. We aim to develop new forms of advocacy for cultural change.
Additionally, the “Floating Artivist Residency” is intended as a tool for developing new and engaging forms of communication about the threats to, and possible futures for, the Hudson River watershed. We believe artists, with their experience in creative communication, are among the most equipped to take on this difficult task. Additionally, through the cultivation of new relationships and a community of artists, we encourage community artists and arts-organizations to play a more impactful role in protecting the Hudson River and the waters that sustain us.
There are limited spaces aboard Solar Sal, and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis so you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.We will prioritize artists who are able to attend the entire duration of the voyage, though we also welcome specific project proposals, performances, interventions, workshops, collaborations, etc (throw an idea at us!) that may be last from a few minutes to a few days. We are organizing a closing event in New York City between July 27-29, where residents and participants are encouraged to publicly present their work. Details to come.
All food will be provided during the journey, and all accommodation will be arranged and at no charge to the participant (through camping and solidarity housing). Travel grants are available and limited stipends can be given to support the participation of front-line artists living along the Hudson River and the Bakken oil supply chain.
* Artivist is a combination word, & way of being, of artist & activist
To apply for this residency, send a letter of interest to seachangevoyage(at)gmail.com. Please includes samples of your previous work, your relationship to the river or the Bakken-crude supply chain, the dates of your availability, and highlight possible themes you’d like to explore during the “Floating Artivist Residency”. Please include your name and “Floating Artivist Residency” in the email subject.
Millennium Pipeline Co. has purchased 80 acres from the Eldred Preserve (Town of Highland) in western Sullivan County for a new proposed compressor station. This compressor is connected not just to the Millennium pipeline but to the CPV Valley power plant, the Valley Lateral pipeline (which would connect Millennium and CPV) and the Hancock compressor, where they plan to add a second compressor, plus additional work at Ramapo. If Eldred is built, that would make 4 compressors within 60 miles, which far exceeds the industry standard and bodes ill of further future expansion.
Based on their stated in-service date of Fall 2018, Millennium was clearly hoping to ram this through what they expected to be a sleepy rural area. But true to the area’s history as the incubator of the early anti-fracking movement, that has not been the case. A new grassroots group called SCRAM (Sullivan County Residents Against Millennium) has organized in record time, with help from several established anti-fracking groups. READ THE WHOLE STORY HERE.
WHERE TO JUMP IN: Click here for info about the dangers of the compressor. Watch this video(provided by SCRAM) of what life is like living near a Millennium compressor. View the interactive YOU ARE HERE map to get an overview of the larger pipeline system.
For the majority of installs, the most important factors are Cost & Quality (economics). Independent installers have an advantage over national installer’s economics. Both independent installers and national installers are using tier-1 Asian Poly, SolarEdge/Enphase, and racking systems that protect roof warranties. In addition, independent solar installers have great access to high-efficiency modules such as Panasonic and LG that cost less than Sunpower. The biggest difference in value-add is that independent installers can complete their installs for less money.
Since the module price drop, independent solar installers across the country do not have issues selling systems for less than $3.30/w (dependent upon roof type and module); installation costs are consistently below $2.75/w. However, according to SunRun’s Q3 2016 financials, the average cost per watt is $3.37/w. Before Tesla’s merger with SolarCity, they achieved an installed cost of $3.18/w. While Vivint Solar’s cost was below SunRun’s at $2.85/w, it will consistently cost them about 10% more per watt than an independent installer. The main reason is marketing and overhead. In Q3 2016, both companies spent more than $.50/w on customer acquisition to fund several aggressive marketing strategies. Due to a slightly more complex business model from third party ownership financing products, their overhead will be higher and it has been higher by approximately $.20/w than independent installers. While anything is possible, it seems difficult for national installers to overcome these costs challenges. It is not surprising that previous national installers such as Verengo, One Roof, and NRG Home Solar have gone bankrupt or exited residential solar. Sungevity had their merger canceled and have recently gone through another round of layoffs.
Independent installers should always win big with service. They are known and trusted professionals in their respective communities and potential solar customers quickly know their name and face. Because they are familiar with local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ), they know how to navigate the interconnection process as efficiently as possible. If there ever was a service issue, the homeowner will have their cell phone and they can attend to the installation immediately. It is much more difficult for a national installer to provide this high level of service and develop a personal relationship with the installer. Involving a national installer will require communication with multiple layers and it will be difficult to match a local installer’s communication. A national installer will take longer to interconnect the system and Sungevity acknowledged that their average install time (sale to system installation) averaged 90 days.
One of the most interesting predictions for 2017 is there will be more residential loans than residential leases. Homeowners–that have enough tax liability–save significantly more with loans than a lease and they are available across the country, unlike third party ownership. While national installers generally had the advantage with PPAs and leases, it is an equal playing field with loan and PACE products. Mosaic and GreenSky are two of the most popular loan providers for independent contractors and they handle Tesla and SunRun’s loan product as well. They offer an 18-month interest only 20-year and 12-year loan with ~5% and ~3% APR that comes with a varying dealer fee. Independent installers can also more fluidly work with the homeowner to find a financing product that better fits their needs. They can compare multiple loan options and also explore PACE, HELOCs, and Mortgage Refis. Since the same financial institutions are providing loans for both national and local installers, there is no benefit for the national installer. It is also likely local installers will use multiple financing products and they can work with potential solar customers to find the optimal financing solution.
4) What about Storage?
Storage without a doubt will be critical for residential solar in the future. While Tesla definitely has the best name in the market with their PowerWall, independent contractors have access to great battery alternatives. Products such as GS Battery, BMZ, and SimpliPhi do not have the same name recognition as Tesla, but their Levelized Cost of Energy are comparable and, more importantly, they are readily available to install.
Although it may get overlooked, independent contractors can prepare elegant sales proposals efficiently with programs like Energy Toolbase. National installers have IT departments and have allocated resources to create sales proposals. These proposals are important marketing materials because they allow the homeowner to calculate their savings and understand their systems. While national installers have more resources to develop sales proposals, independent contractors can deliver the same proposal. Energy Toolbase helps solar contractors accurately forecast savings, especially with complex and/or new rate tariffs. Again, the sales proposal is another tool or feature that would previously offer a national installer an inherent advantage but now there’s no difference.
While some homeowners will prefer national installers, and there will always be homeowners that independent contractors can’t reach, independent contractors should not fear a national installer in their hometown. Instead, they should leverage the demand generated and be ready to shine amongst the competition.
Despite deep concerns raised by the Energy Democracy Alliance, a recent state order replaces net metering with a complex set of rules that could cripple small-scale renewable energy development.
BACKGROUND: The Public Service Commission (PSC) has just adopted a “Value of Distributed Energy Resources” (VDER) policy that sets the statewide value of renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind. VDER puts local installers and community organizations at a disadvantage, by rapidly phasing out net metering – the current simple compensation mechanism – and replacing it with a policy so complex that it may only work for large firms capable of devoting substantial resources to sophisticated financial and energy market modeling.
MITIGATING FACTORS: To its credit, the PSC acknowledged some of these issues and proposed potential remedies. These include a directive to NYSERDA (the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) to provide $28 million in funding for community renewable energy, with targeted funding to support low-income access. Additionally, the Commission opened the door for immediate consideration of increased compensation for projects that serve low-income customers. There were also some incremental improvements to the core of the policy that may smooth out the transition and allow more projects to become viable. BUT . . .
Is this a signal that the state is walking back stated goals for widely available and affordable distributed energy, in favor of centralized and utility-scale projects that favor Wall Street?
CONCERNS REMAIN: This ruling is part of Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), a process launched by Governor Cuomo, whose stated goals were to create a clean, resilient, and more affordable energy system in New York. The Energy Democracy Alliance is concerned that the rapid pace of net metering phase-out and the complexity of the new policy jeopardizes these goals.
The proposed VDER policy could perpetuate inequities for low-income customers, people of color, and other New Yorkers who want to generate and use renewable energy.
The New York Energy Democracy Alliance is a collaboration of community-based organizations, grassroots groups, and policy experts working together to move our state toward a renewable, equitable, affordable and local energy system. Our current focus is on building public participation in the historic overhaul of state energy policy that Gov. Cuomo, the PSC, and NYSERDA are pursuing, in order to ensure that all New Yorkers—including low-and moderate-income communities and communities of color— can be part of the process, and benefit from it.
Current members include:
Affordable Housing Partnership Homeownership Center
Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE)
Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition
Center for Social Inclusion
Citizen Action of New York
Citizens’ Environmental Coalition
Citizens for Local Power
Fossil Free Tompkins
Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES)
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
Long Island Progressive Coalition
New York State Sustainable Business Council
Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson
Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo
On Thursday, March 9 at 12:30pm the AG will be in the Kingston area to join local officials and environmental advocates to reiterate this promise to protect New York’s residents by protecting their clean water. The Trump administration has given every indication that they are going to carry out this assault on Clean Water and our environment, so we are standing together to vow to fight these dangerous plans. We are planning on meeting at the Sojourner Truth/Ulster Landing Park by 12:15pm for the 12:30event.
Want to get involved to stop the Pilgrim Pipelines but sometimes feel like you don’t have all the facts at your finger tips, don’t have the latest updates on the struggle or think you don’t know exactly what goes into a press release or fb page? Come join us for a great day of skills sharing!
The workshops included in this skills-sharing day are: a Sample Talking Points presentation accompanied by a printed version, with references, that can be used for outreach and talking points, as well as trainings on Media Outreach, Power Point, Social Media Outreach, and Pilgrim Pipeline Map Reading. Additionally, a handy Outreach Resource Bibliography will be provided to all attendees.
This sharing of skills is intended for those invested in the fight against Pilgrim Pipelines to be able to leave at the end of the day equipped to do outreach to others. So whether you are a seasoned member of CAPPNY who would like to hone your outreach skills, or are new to learning about the threat of Pilgrim Pipelines and seeking to get involved, whether you have a few hours a month to volunteer or more time to devote- come join us. Coffee and a nosh will get us started, and lunch will be provided in between sessions.
Lunch will be provided. Bring your laptop if you have one – laptops are required for some (but not all) of the skills workshops. (Look at the registration page for details.)