Ryan McCune, vice president of sales and marketing, explains how a solar farm works. He is speaking in front of a solar farm on Jacksonville Road.
Matt Steecker, ithacajournal.com | @MSteecker
Tompkins County is a leader in solar energy in the Southern Tier, and arrays like the recently completed solar farm in Enfield will make sure it stays that way for years to come.
Three hundred and seventy-three households will benefit from a recently completed 2.3-megawatt solar array on Mecklenburg Road in Enfield. This new solar farm includes 6,804 solar panels on 13 acres, and is the largest in the county and the Southern Tier.
The solar farm will decrease greenhouse gases by 1,430 metric tons annually — the equivalent of removing 306 cars from the road.
“This community solar project is enabling residents to benefit from clean energy and support our continued sustainability efforts in Tompkins County,” said Martha Robertson, chairwoman of the Tompkins County Legislature.
The efforts in Tompkins County align with New York’s renewable energy goals. The largest solar farm in New York has 164,312 solar panels producing 32 megawatts on 200 acres of land in Upton on Long Island.
Ryan McCune, vice president of sales and marketing for Renovus Solar, said legislation has significantly boosted the solar industry.
“We’ve been very progressive about solar lawmaking here,” McCune said.
Renovus Solar and BlueRock Solar co-developed the Enfield solar farm. Blue Rock Solar owns the solar farm.
“Since the community solar project is a subscription-style project, it provides the easiest and cheapest way for customers to go solar, as there is no upfront payment required to join,” said Michael Francis, general manager of Blue Rock Solar. “There is no credit check, customers sign a contract for as short as one year, and with the project being net metered, we provide discounts to utility supply and delivery rates. It is a tremendous program benefiting both the environment and our customers.”
Subscription-style farms are open to anyone who lives in a utility billing zone of a community solar project. No upfront investments, down payments or long contracts are needed. Subscribers pay as they go during their contract’s length, which is usually one to three years.
Subscription-style farms differ from shared ownership projects, in which participants buy or lease solar panels. If homeowners or renters choose to relocate out of the billing zone, they are able to sell their panels.
For both models, customers receive a credit for the solar power they use, usually at a variable rate per kilowatt-hour, which is deducted from the energy portion of their electric bill. The subscription model allows someone to offset up to 10 percent of his or her electric bill.
Renovus Solar currently has 1,000 customers who benefit from ownership model solar farms. An ownership model allows an owner to offset 100 percent of their electricity costs.
“We prefer to deliver 100 percent value to our customers,” McCune said.
The solar company is finishing solar farms in Spencer and Candor, is about to start construction of a solar farm in Homer, and is waiting for NYSEG to interconnect a recently completed solar project in Beaver Dams. Renovus Solar is on track to have 13 ownership model solar farms built by the end of the year.
The company also develops subscription model solar farms.
“Renovus’ goal has always been to bring solar power to the masses, and every watt of solar power we develop with partners like BlueRock help bring New York closer to its energy infrastructure goals,” said Joe Sliker, president of Renovus Solar.
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