By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
LAURENS – Poised to open a solar farm in Laurens – Otsego County’s second – Solstice executives say the company wants to make sure that everyone around here can afford solar energy.
That includes “people who need the savings the most,” said Andrew Alayza, marketing director for the international solar-farm developer.
Four-hundred local families have already signed up for all the capacity the farm will produce, but Delaware River Solar (DRS), the solar farms’ developer, and Solstice are encouraging people to get on a waiting list for future projects.
Solstice, with offices in Chicago, New York and Argentina, partnered with MIT and Stanford University researchers to develop EnergyScore, based on 875,000 Americans’ utility-bill payment performance and housing, as well as financial and demographic characteristics.
With Otsego County’s median household income at $45,268, “many residents do not meet the minimum credit score requirements to access solar financing,” according to a recent Solstice press release. It’s hard for some residents to remove derogatory items from credit report in order to qualify for solar financing.
“We found the EnergyScore was 40 percent more accurate at qualifying individuals for solar access than a credit score…,” Alayza said. If residents have low credit scores but good EnergyScores, they can often qualify for a community solar program like DRS’s and enjoy the 10 percent reduced rate on their utility bills.
Solstice’s partner and developer here, Delaware River Solar, has made signing up to participate in its community solar program easy – and free – by eliminating the costs and topographic challenges of installing solar panels in individual houses.
So far, 400 Otsego County residents already signed up to use the farm’s solar-power generated electricity at a savings of 10 percent off the electric utility rate.
The 7,920 solar panels at the Laurens farm, due to open in early February, generate 400,000 kilowatts of electricity, at its peak, which is then off-loaded on to NYSEG’s area electrical grid. “Bill credits” are produced each month for the solar farms’ members and distributed to them. Each month, members of the project receive the credits on their electric bills, reducing their amounts by 10 percent.
DRS has also eliminated the process and costs of signing up for solar energy that in the past caused people to not sign up for it. There are no upfront or cancellation fees, and if you move within the utility area, you can retain your membership.
Another DRS solar farm in Liberty that will provide solar power to Otsego County has filled to capacity and will open in mid-April. But Cindy Menges, DRS’s Communications person, said the company has many projects following the Laurens and Liberty farms.
She said customers should sign up now so they can be “put into the queue and are allocated to projects” as DRS completes them. Anyone interested in signing up can contact DRS at email@example.com or at 845-414-3491. For more information and to sign up, visit www.delawareriversolar.com.