Sunset Park Solar is NYC's first community solar project owned and operated by a cooperative for the benefit of local residents and businesses. Community solar allows renters, homeowners, and small businesses to go solar without installing solar panels on their roof. Subscribers to the community solar project not only help their city mitigate emissions, they save money on their utility bills by receiving solar energy credits from projects on roofs elsewhere in the city. 

Through a partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), Sunset Park Solar is being developed on the roof of the Brooklyn Army Terminal, a City-owned industrial park. 

The project team includes non-profits UPROSE and Solar One, energy cooperative Co-op Power; development partner Resonant Energy; and solar installer 770 Electric Corp. UPROSE and Solar One offer solar installation training course to local residents and 770 Electric Corp has hired six local job trainees to work on the installation. Ultimately, the system will be owned by UPROSE and the subscribers through a cooperative ownership structure.

 

What is the project? How does it work?

NYCEDC (the public partner on behalf of the City of New York), has structured the project so that the public sector will contribute the full value of the real estate required to the project, as long as the project is effective in reaching the policy goals of providing below-market clean energy to local subscribers. This is an innovative public-private partnership (PPP) that demonstrates municipal leadership in delivering PPP to foster the community solar market in NYC.

As a cooperative, each subscriber-member has a vote in deciding how to invest the cooperative’s resources, including any operating profit from the solar installation. The profit can be reinvested in additional solar projects, used to launch complementary energy efficiency campaigns, or distributed to members as dividends. The cooperative convenes regular meetings that are open to all members, where issues relating to Sunset Park Solar and additional projects being developed by the cooperative can be discussed and voted on.

The idea for community-owned solar comes out of efforts from the climate justice community to operationalise just transitions. Its goal is to make it possible for communities to start moving off the grid and to start creating utilities or mechanisms that will help them thrive in the face of climate change. Apart from catalysing transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy, this approach also aims to serve as an economic driver for working class communities.

 

What are the CO2 reduction goals?

The program is estimated to generate 19.6 million kWh of solar electricity over 25 years, which will provide an estimated 13,056 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions reduction.

By creating a low carbon energy network, the project will mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and support city renewable energy targets. The 80x50 roadmap (part of of New York City’s Climate Agreement-compliant Climate Action Plan) commits NYC to a 40% reduction of GHG emissions by 2030; the city has also committed to 1 GW of citywide solar by 2030. Sunset Park Solar helps the city achieve these goals and contributes to the growth of the community shared solar market in NYC. Distributed renewable energy generation will also increase resiliency in the energy grid network in the event of an outage.

 

Next Steps

The Sunset Solar Park project is a pilot with an initial lease of 25 years and serves as a model for future projects. It can be expanded on the roof where it is located, within other portions of the Brooklyn Army Terminal campus, and/or to other buildings in the NYC Economic Development Corporation’s portfolio of 60M + sq. ft located across the five boroughs of the city.