Building Community Power CO-OPperatively: A Renewable Energy Summit

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Why Community Power Makes Sense

Here's a piece that I found on the internet about community power in New Jersey but I think it's relevant to those of us trying to get RE co-ops off the ground. Read the whole article here: While a bill that would enable a community, church or neighborhood group to form a local renewable energy collaborative (LREC) for the purpose of hosting a community-owned solar system is bogged down in the legislature, the residents of several New Jersey developments have taken it upon themselves to create their own solar communities. The two community solar models are somewhat different: the bill in the legislature enables the sharing of solar energy produced by a large communal solar installation, while the private initiative involves residents banding together to take advantage of economies of scale in the cost of installing solar on their individual residences. But the outcome is the same: homeowners are able to install solar at a reduced cost, as well as to reap the benefits that solar brings in terms of reduced electricity bills, federal tax benefits and a new income stream from the sale of SRECs, or solar renewable energy certificates, a state financial incentive. The increased production of solar energy, meanwhile, benefits society by reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and by contributing to the development of a robust renewable energy sector that promotes prosperity and national security. The community solar concept originated in California, but we’re making an effort to bring it to New Jersey. Community solar have been installed at four residential developments in New Jersey, and plans are underway at several more......... While most homeowners initially consider solar out of concern for the environment, it is the 15 to 20 percent return on investment that usually ends up being the deciding factor. In fact, solar is such a good deal in New Jersey that homeowners, once they get a handle on the numbers, can hardly believe they’re for real. As an example, let’s take Somerset Run, an age-restricted community in the Somerset section of Franklin Township, recently completed a community solar project of 10 homes collectively representing 80 kilowatts of generating capacity that is expected to produce nearly 100,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. The typical solar system in the Somerset Run community solar project will be paid back in less than five years through a 30 percent federal tax credit, an annual savings on electricity costs of about $2,000 and an annual income from the sale of SRECs of about $5,000. Solar becomes even more affordable when you consider the fact that homeowners are able to finance most of the upfront cost through loans, and that solar systems in New Jersey are exempt from sales and property taxes (although a solar system adds to a home’s value, it will not increase the tax assessment).....

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