Robert Lyman

Manager, Eastern Markets

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Community solar programs in New York are now providing accessible clean energy to consumers who cannot host on-site solar; including households, public organizations, and business owners.

Approximately half of U.S. households and businesses are unable to install rooftop solar due to space, lack of sun exposure or ownership limitations, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Community Solar gives residential and business customers – including those who rent – an easy way to benefit from solar without installing or maintaining any equipment.

Now, a new program called Community Distributed Generation (CDG) is bringing off-site solar benefits specifically to National Grid service territory. If you pay a National Grid bill, you are eligible to join. This article is a quick overview of how this new CDG solar program works and how businesses in National Grid can get involved.

CDG Program in National Grid Territory

Community Distributed Generation (CDG) is a New York utility-regulated program that allows communities to benefit from affordable renewable energy; which can encompass a mix of sources, including solar power. Like traditional community solar programs, a participating solar project would still be located nearby in your community, but not at your facility or home.

What’s unique about the CDG program is that it now allows the electricity to be shared amongst both residential (60%) and commercial customers (40%). The commercial customers are known as “anchor tenants”, which can be commercial entities, such as small- or medium-sized businesses.

Each month, anchor tenants along with the residential customers, receive a credit from National Grid that reduces the overall cost of their monthly electric bill. Over time, this adds up to significant savings because the cost of electricity to the local solar project is at a lower rate than the credit from National Grid.

Community Distributed Generation (CDG): How it Works


Why New York? Ambitious State-Wide Energy Goals

The State of New York has some of the most progressive renewable energy programs in the United States. With a goal of reaching 100% of clean electricity by 2040, New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is a comprehensive energy strategy enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo that is aimed at helping consumers make more informed energy choices as well as growing the state’s clean energy economy. Along with these initiatives, the Empire State also made a goal of hitting 3 GW of energy storage by 2030 and 6 GW of distributed generation (DG) solar by 2025.

In an effort to support the growth of new solar, a program called NY-SUN was created to help make solar energy more accessible and affordable for New York residents and business owners. If you are a New York utility customer, you’re likely already familiar with some of the various incentives and financing programs, ranging from the solar MW block to the NY Storage adder.

A major component of NY-SUN is community solar, a rapidly growing program that is gaining popularity across New York. That’s because when it comes to solar, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every electricity consumer has different needs and requirements when it comes to available space, demand and financing.

For example, those with enough on-site space, a large load profile, or cash on hand might benefit from purchasing an on-site solar structure, such as a parking canopy. For those who are space or cash constrained, a community solar subscription would be a better option, such as through National Grid’s CDG program.

Now Is the Time to Join

Any National Grid customer can now subscribe and access the energy produced by a solar project as part of the CDG program. Even if you already receive a portion of your electricity from an Energy Services Provider, you are still eligible to join.

The CDG program is bringing solar access to more customers than ever before, including local business owners who would have otherwise been left out of traditional community solar programs and a lower electricity bill. In addition, the adoption of the CDG program is helping New York move closer towards its ambitious renewable energy goals; something that cannot be achieved without ample participation.

However, access to solar in New York is filling up and rates are better than ever for businesses. Under NY-SUN’s MW block, certain regions and sectors are only allotted a certain number of megawatts, and access comes on a first-come, first-serve basis. This means that in order to participate in solar programs, New Yorkers need to move quickly.

Interested in getting involved? You’re in luck because ForeFront Power offers shovel-ready projects with space for local businesses to join as anchor tenants. You can contact Rob Lyman at rylman@forefrontpower.com to learn more.

Why ForeFront Power?

The ForeFront Power team has more than a decade of renewable industry experience, serving business, public sector, and residential customers around the world. In 2018, our team completed the first phase of our community solar portfolio in New York, representing 27 megawatts (MW) of over 75 MW across the state to be completed by the end of 2019.