By Kellen M. Quigley
In the town of Concord, things could start looking a lot more green, and not just because the snow is melting and spring is here.
At the last meeting of the Concord Town Board, Supervisor Clyde Drake was authorized to sign the Solarize Partnership Agreement to join the Solarize movement in the town of Concord.
Reed Braman, president of Green Springville, addressed the board about Solarize, a clean-energy program through NYSERDA for local governments to increase the number of solar rooftops in the jurisdiction through group purchasing, locally-organized community education and outreach and a limited time offer.
“This is all about solar,” said Supervisor Drake, who has attended some Solarize meetings with Councilman Philip Drozd. “This an opportunity to get together with other towns.”
Some of the other Erie County towns who have joined the initiative include North Collins, Eden, Boston, Evans and Colden, Braman said.
According to Braman, the program is meant for residential solar. What they’re trying to do is bring together the selected solar installer with the knowledge that they would be installing many solar installations across Southern Erie County and offer their best price.
“Based on the results from other Solarize programs, it tends to be a 15 to 20 percent discount,” he said. “There is a lot of outreach and a lot of trying to answer people’s questions, and once we have our solar installer, we’ll be doing that.”
Braman said Green Springville would be doing a lot of the organization and “heavy lifting” so the program can have the biggest effect possible.
As part of signing the agreement, the town of Concord would have several responsibilities, such as nominating a representative to participate in the Solarize Southtowns Steering Committee, participate in the choosing of and work with the participating installer teams, help raise awareness and host at least one community event as well as involvement other Clean Energy Community (CEC) and NYSERDA opportunities.
“I think this is a real plus because we have Green Springville right here to help us, which a lot of other towns won’t have,” Drake said. “They’re not pushing one installer on the residents, but it will be up to them if they want to do this.”
The second part of the program, Branam said, is where residents don’t have to install the solar and can just sign on. There are some factors of who solar benefits, and one of those factors is income.
“If you don’t have a very pronounced income, whether it’s low to moderate income or a fixed income, then generally you don’t have access to solar,” he said. “One of the programs NYSERDA has created is called Solar For All.”
Through cooperation with the University of Buffalo Regional Institute, Branam Solarize has been able to add that option to this program. If you qualify for HEAP, then you would already be qualified for Solar For All.
“It would be as simple as filling out a two-page document and then the credit would be applied to your bill,” he said. “It’s a very easy way for people who qualify to take part in solar energy.”
According to Braman, to officially start the Solarize program, scoping documents will be sent to NYSERDA. As part of that package, Solarize will have partnership agreements from the towns involved. Once that paperwork is approved in Albany, they would move forward with selecting an installer.
“The only sticking point is that we would agree to only work with the solar installer selected, but it does sound like individuals have their own choice and they can go with whomever they want,” said Councilman William Snyder.
Braman said that by aggregating customers to the solar installer selected reduces the market cost so that a discount can be offered, which he said is a win-win.
“The customer gets a discount and the installer has an easier time acquiring customers,” he added.
Additionally, Braman noted that the program would qualify for one of the high-impact action items for the Clean Energy Community Grant, so between the LED lights and Solarize, the town would be halfway there.
If a resident wanted to do an installation, the installer would go to their home for measurements and write the quote, Braman said.
“The contract is between the installer and the customer,” he said. “We’re just facilitating them getting together and trying to get a good cost.”