Recent incentives, and a goal by Governor Cuomo to achieve 50 percent of New York’s energy through renewable sources, has helped to focus attention on solar power in New York City.
Once considered impractical and prohibitively expensive, solar is steadily making its way into the city.
In fact, New York City appears to be in the early stages of a shift, as developers and owners begin to recognize the environmental and economic benefits of harnessing the sun’s power.
Solar power in New York City is supported by a number of national, state, and city incentive programs. Meanwhile, solar panels are becoming more affordable and efficient, and an abundance of new companies specializing in solar are enabling owners to lease or buy the panels.
Daniel Benedict of Benedict Realty Group, a residential property owner and manager, has had significant success with solar energy.
Starting in 2014, BRG began installing solar systems and now has arrays with a total of 1,700 panels on nine of its multifamily residential properties in the Queens, The Bronx, and Brooklyn.
The panels collect energy during the day to power the properties’ common areas and mechanicals, and also feed energy back into the grid.
While it may seem that solar is only practical in sunny southern cities, BRG’s nine arrays produced 553 MWh in 2015 (enough power to light three million light bulbs for a day). This is the equivalent of preventing 1.5 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere – a remarkable reduction in emissions from one multifamily property owner.
In one particular property, BRG reduced its electric bill by nearly 80 percent, a number that is likely to grow as technology continues to improve. As it is, BRG can expect to make more than $200,000 in revenue over the lifetime of the panels (typically 25 years) by “selling” excess energy generated back into the grid.
“The decision to embrace solar came from the desire to be a good community partner and to do our part to help the environment,” Benedict said. “However, as we did more research we realized there also was significant economic incentive to install the panels.”
While solar panels aren’t a practical option for all properties in New York City due to shading and fire code restrictions, there are very few cities in the United States with more available roof space.
BRG’s efforts may prove to be a model for others who want to reduce costs while demonstrating support for the environment.