If you're a home owner, it's easy to 'go green' by modifying your home's heating and cooling equipment to renewable energy sources like solar or electric. But if you're an apartment dweller, it's not so easy. Until now.
A New York Times article today outlined a new program this summer called Community Solar Groups (or CSG). These groups are for apartment renters and homeowners who live in buildings which cannot have solar panels installed. With a CSG, someone in an apartment can lower their electricity bill by joining the group which is connected to solar panels that sit on a rooftop of a building at another location and even another area.
The CSGs essentially broker the electricity generated by the solar panels by selling it to a local electric company which then gives the members of the CSG a discount on their electric bill. Each member's discount varies depending on the size and number of solar panels involved and the number of members in the CSG. Members not only get a cost break on their bill, but now enjoy the satisfaction of a social and environmental contribution as well.
Community Solar Groups consist of 4 basic elements: a host, a sponsor, a utility company, and customers (usually limited to 25 or so to ensure a fair discount). The host allows a solar panel grid to be installed on a commercial building he owns or leases the space to a sponsor who can design, operate and maintain the system. The sponsor then sells the energy produced to a local utility company; customers are billed for their electricity through a 3rd party firm which provides a summary of their power used, their credit and a summary of the power generated by the CSG solar panels.
While the program is still in its infancy stage, expectations are that the concept will expand rapidly in coming years, making it possible for a whole new group of people that can contribute to 'going green' and reducing dependence on oil and gas for power.
#sustainability #solar #communitysolar #kickinggas #utility #electric