Groundbreaking Opt-Out Community Solar Program in Brockport and Lima, NY Moves Toward Launch as the Villages Select Solar Provider
TWO NY MUNICIPALITIES ENTER INTO A TRI-PARTY AGREEMENT WITH JOULE AND GENERATE CAPITAL TO IMPLEMENT FIRST-OF-KIND OPT-OUT COMMUNITY SOLAR PROGRAM THAT SAVES MONEY FOR RESIDENTS, GROWS THE LOCAL ECONOMY, AND HELPS MEET NY STATE'S CLIMATE GOALS
FINGER LAKES, N.Y., Feb. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Villages of Brockport and Lima entered into a tri-party agreement with Joule and Generate Capital to provide community solar to residents on an opt out basis. Part of Joule's Finger Lakes Community Choice program, the opt-out community solar program will be rolled out to 3,800+ households across the two upstate New York municipalities. Expected to launch this year, this program will be the first opt-out community solar program in the United States. Generate teamed up with 38 Degrees North to acquire from top developers the solar projects in the area that will provide residents 17 million kilowatt hours of solar power for 25 years. Joule, the program administrator, has been supporting the development of a community choice program in the Villages since early 2017, including the provision of public outreach and public education on the opportunities for both electricity supply and community solar. Joule is the only program administrator with approval from the State to integrate community solar and electricity supply in a community choice offering.
Lower Electricity Costs for All
The opt-out community-level agreement ensures equal access to the benefits of community distributed generation from renewable sources—including electricity bill savings made possible by NY State incentives for renewable energy generation. Both low- and high-income households have access to these benefits on equal terms. This first-of-kind opt-out community solar program and the signing of the tri-party agreements delivers participants a guaranteed 10% savings on solar credits without requiring them to sign an individual contract, undergo a credit check, pay a second bill for solar, or install solar panels on their home or property. As such, the program is the first community choice aggregation in NY State to serve low-income consumers. As part of the community choice program designed by Joule and approved by DPS on September 3, 2020, the two municipalities signed a community-level tri-party agreement on behalf of their residents and small businesses, enabling eligible account holders to be automatically enrolled in the program with any credits or charges accounted for on the consumer's National Grid electricity bill. The credits, and the resulting electricity bill savings, are supplemental to any benefits delivered by a community choice electricity supply program.
Community Solar Attracts Local Investment, Creates Jobs
Re-localizing energy generation helps build local wealth. Solar projects distribute benefits back to individual households in the form of reliable savings, but also to communities in the form of job creation and community revenue. Jobs are created in the construction, operation, and management of the solar projects that are located in close proximity to the communities they serve. Local businesses will benefit from more and steady income flowing into the community. The projects themselves will also contribute to local revenues.
Progress Toward Achieving NY's Clean Energy Goals
Opt-out community solar not only reduces carbon emissions, but it also moves NY State closer to achieving its clean energy goals. While benefiting communities and residents, opt-out community solar also provides significant benefits to solar project developers. Opt-out community solar effectively guarantees the solar developer all the generated electricity output will be purchased without any need to solicit interest or market to each potential individual customer. The municipal-level agreement essentially ensures that subscribers have been secured in advance, thereby fostering an environment that allows for at-scale development of solar projects throughout NY State.
Brockport Mayor Margay Blackman said, "We have been continually trying to find ways to save our residents money, and one of them has been through true renewable energy. We converted to municipal solar in 2019 and have been waiting and waiting for the opt out community solar program that Joule has offered. So, we're really thrilled to now be a part of it."
"Implementing community choice aggregation has been a goal that the Village of Lima has been working on for four years," stated Lima Mayor John Wadach. "Thanks to the support and expertise of Joule and its local partner Roctricity, we are excited to bring renewable energy at a cost savings to our residents. Although our residents will not have to take any action to receive the savings on their National Grid bills, those of us on the Village Board know how much work with State regulators and utilities that Joule undertook to make this a reality."
"Joule has cemented itself as a leading in clean energy solutions for New York residents, offering solar choice to communities that otherwise may not be able to access it," said Peggy Flannery, principal at Generate, which currently operates over 50 MW of community solar in New York State. "Generate is proud to continue our commitment to expanding affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy options through this innovative partnership."
"Joule and the Villages of Brockport and Lima have developed a market leading structure that will provide significant savings to the whole community. We are proud to have partnered with Joule and Generate to provide innovative financing solutions that will accelerate the growth of community choice aggregation throughout New York," said Chris Bailey, Managing Partner at 38 Degrees North.
"New York has kept the community in community solar," remarked Joule Founder Mike Gordon. "Because CCA [community choice aggregation] authority empowers our Mayors and Supervisors to grant credits to their residents, substantially all Brockport and Lima residents will see twenty years of ensured bill savings without lifting a finger. Because New York State allows leaders to direct these credits even to subsets of their community, we should see replication throughout the state and beyond—leaders will credit the utility bills for the neediest folk in their respective communities."
National Grid will continue to deliver electricity to all residents and remains responsible for repairs, maintenance, and service. Residents can opt out of the program at any time with no penalty, but would lose the guaranteed 10% price reductions on the solar bill credits that lower their annual electricity costs.
ABOUT GENERATE Generate Capital, Inc. is a leading sustainable infrastructure company driving the infrastructure revolution. Generate builds, owns, operates, and finances solutions for clean energy, water, waste, and transportation. Founded in 2014, Generate partners with over 35 technology and project developers and owns and operates more than 2,000 assets globally. Generate is the one-stop shop offering pioneers of the infrastructure revolution tailored funding and support needed to get projects built. Our Infrastructure-as-a-Service model delivers affordable, reliable, and sustainable resources to over 1,000 customers, companies, communities, school districts, and universities.
ABOUT 38 DEGREES NORTH 38 Degrees North is an investment manager specializing in contracted renewable energy infrastructure with a primary focus on solar energy and battery storage. The managing partners have a track record of over 3GW of successful renewable energy project financings across a variety of asset classes. For more information, please visit.www.38degreesn.com.
ABOUT FINGER LAKES COMMUNITY CHOICE Finger Lakes Community Choice is a community choice aggregation program—comprising communities in Western New York—that enables participants to save money on electricity by pooling local electricity demand in order to leverage the collective buying power of their residents and small businesses in effort to secure more favorable terms on their energy supply and/or community solar contracts, protect consumers, and choose renewable generation sources. The participating communities include the Town of Geneva and the Villages of Brockport, Honeoye Falls, and Lima. As of July 1, 2019, the default energy supply to homes and small businesses in the Town of Geneva is 100% renewable. The groundbreaking community choice solar program will be an important pillar in the NY State Climate Action Plan mandate to reach 70% renewables by 2030. Finger Lakes Community Choice was formed in partnership with Joule Community Power. To learn more, visit fingerlakescommunitychoice.com.
ABOUT JOULE COMMUNITY POWER Joule Community Power (Joule) works with municipalities and local partners to empower communities and facilitate their goals of providing residents and businesses with cleaner and cheaper energy. With no upfront cost to a municipality or its residents, Joule's first-of-kind, integrated Community Power program helps municipalities and consumers (1) save money by gaining leverage to procure less expensive electricity for residents and businesses, (2) make money by creating new revenue opportunities through participation in energy markets, and (3) go green by gaining local control to opt for clean and renewable generation sources. Joule's distinctive expertise in designing and implementing new consumer-protective energy supply contracts was instrumental in the creation of New York State's first community choice aggregation (CCA) energy program. Joule is the only company in NY State offering CCA administrative services with a Public Service Commission-approved implementation plan that integrates community solar projects; and only Joule has the expertise, relationships, and experience to effectively design, implement, and manage such a program. Joule's innovative renewable energy strategy is driving new regulation and encouraging the NY State Public Service Commission to rapidly advance innovative solutions. Having created the blueprint to guide communities through a smooth and empowering decision process, Joule aims to scale its Community Power model across NY State and beyond. Joule also offers capacity tag management services to businesses wishing to reduce their electricity costs by strategically managing their energy consumption. Joule Community Power is a division of Joule Assets. To learn more, visit joulecommunitypower.com.