Low-income NYC residents pay up to 13 percent of their income on energy costs according to WE ACT, a non-profit organization working for environmental justice.
Solar energy is considered the future for increased energy costs with a lesser damage to the environment but unfortunately, it can be expensive and therefore only accessible to those with a higher income.
In order to change that, We Act launched Solar Uptown Now program, which is currently installing solar arrays on the rooftops of 11 affordable housing buildings across northern Manhattan.
“ We install solar panels to protect northern Manhattan from the climate change and to help residents reduce their energy income,” Cecil D. Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director of We Act, said Wednesday.
Sponsored by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the City University of New York’s Sustainable CUNY, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the program focuses on helping residents to choose and install solar to a reduced price.
“Solar both helps these communities to lower their greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change and it also saves money for these people that generally spends a greater portion of their income on energy bills,” Corbin-Mark said.
By bringing people and communities together, Corbin-Mark explains that the program cut solar costs for the participating residents by 10 to 20 percent.
“The solar panels are expected to offset around 4,000 tons of greenhouse emissions, save building residents more than $1.7 million in energy costs and generate power for more than 900 residents throughout their 25-year lifespan,” Corbin-Mark said.
“The residents with solar panels will save $59,000 a year,” Corbin-Mark said.
Together with SolarOne, a part of the project is also to provide unemployed and underemployed members of the community with free solar training.
Corbin-Mark explains that in order to improve the community’s health, it was essential that the program included worker training that brought local residents job opportunities.
“100 people have participated in the training program so far and 90 of those have later been employed and helped out with the solar installations,” Corbin-Mark said.
The program is open for local New York City residents and you can apply at their website by filling in a form.
How to get solar on your building
If you’re the owner of a building in northern Manhattan, the only thing you have to do is to fill in a form and a S.U.N representative will visit your building to help you pick the right solar system.
If you’re not the owner, you can sign up to the community shared solar program where you get to share the costs with your neighbors. Building owners who agree to the community shared solar systems therefore won’t have to pay for the solar system themselves.
“We all need to combat the dramatic climate change and making solar energy more accessible is a big step in the right direction,” Corbin-Mark said.