Community Board 10 and east Bronx homeowners came together to discuss using solar energy to power private homes and reduce utility bills, and the creation of ‘microgrids.’
The board’s vice-chairman John Marano and the Throggs Neck Home Owners Association invited New York State Energy Research and Development Authority contractors to an Energy Efficiency and Renewalble Energy Forum that dealt with topics like solar power for homeowners and ‘microgrids’ that can function as independent power islands and within larger infrastructure.
The forum was held during the TNHOA meeting on Tuesday, May 26.
“I hope this helps the public understand that there are alternative energy solutions, and they are coming sooner than later,” said Marano of the forum.
“We have to start somewhere, and I want all this information out there,” he added.
Ken Kearns, CB 10 district manager and Martin Prince, the board’s chairman, attended. Lynn Gerbino, TNHOA president and the organization’s board hosted the forum at Villa Barone Manor.
NYSERDA contractor Lesile Davis of Solar One spoke about the NY Prize competition and how microgrids work.
She noted that Co-op City, with its own power plant, is a micro-grid, capable of being independent of Con Edison power.
Davis explained that in order to qualify for a NY Prize grant, the applicant has to be a place of refuge, like a fire department or a hospital.
Rachel Stein, NYSERDA program manager, explained the mission of the organization is to make the homes and business more energy efficient.
Chris Niedl of the NYSERDA funded Here Comes Solar project spoke about the federal and state tax credits available to homeowners who want to have solar installations on their roofs.
“We are really trying to promote the rapid spread of solar in New York City because there is huge potential here because of the how expensive electricity is,” he said. “We work with groups of neighbors who want to go solar, and we help them solicit from installers that we have vetted and qualified, and because they do it as a group in the same area, they get a volume discount.”
He explained that oftentimes, homeowners could get financing for solar systems on their roofs, and reduce energy costs up to 70% to 100%
He said that the amount of solar installations in Staten Island is soaring, and that after touring the area, many east Bronx communities appear to have similar amounts of open roof space capable of generating solar energy.
The communities tend to be stable, with people staying for years, a plus when considering solar as it could take several years to see a financial return on a rooftop solar panel system, said Niedl.
Marano said had envisioned CB 10 creating its own micro-grid proposal for New York Prize, but when it became clear that this could not be done by the Friday, May 15 deadline for the competition, the idea for a forum on solar and other alternative energy was born.
Sources said that Montefiore Medical Center has submitted a proposal to get funded for a microgrid feasibility study as part of the NY Prize competition.