New Yorkers can now add solar energy to the list of things they can get on their smartphones.
Yeloha, a company that describes itself as a “solar sharing network,” launched in New York on Tuesday.
New Yorkers can sign up for the service through the company's website, which pairs people who want solar power but do not have solar panels on their roof with those who do. The solar panels are set to be installed this spring, and all you need to do is keep your utility company.
“We’ve been taught that good things cost more, like organic food, but in power, it’s really not the case,” said Amit Rosner, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “We used to think that solar is for rich people that live in the suburbs or can commit to 20 years or more with a perfect roof. We’re changing all of this.”
Rosner said that although solar panels are significantly cheaper than five years ago, they can still cost about $20,000 for a small to medium roof.
Yeloha started in Boston earlier this year, where they have "hundreds" of customers, and the company has recently partened with Green Mountain Power to bring solar to an estimated 265,000 customers in Vermont.
Rosner said Bostonians who use the service see an on-average savings of 10 percent on their utility bills. The service works through the utility provider, which measures the energy used from the solar panel, and credits the next bill for the amount saved.
For those who elect to have the solar panel installed on their roof, they get to keep 20 percent of the energy and the rest is sent out to the solar-sharing network. The cost of the panel is paid for by a third-party, Rosner said. The company makes money through start-up fees.
The panels will be installed this spring, likely on large municipal buildings, churches and private buildings in New York City. Rosner suggested those interested reserve a spot on the website at www.yeloha.com/ny. An app will let users track clean energy the panels produce.
Rosner thinks the solar sharing service might have a more harmonious reception in the city than Airbnb and Uber, especially given the state’s recent commitment to renewable energy.
“There are always pros and cons, but I really see no downside to this,” Rosen said. “No one is losing anything, it’s a win-win for the host, subscriber and the environment.”
There are already solar sharing programs in New York that operate on community net metering with clusters of panels. Earlier this year, the New York Public Service Commission launched a shared renewables program that gives a credit on energy bills to those who participate in a renewable energy project, which Rosner said Yeloha participates in.
Allan Drury, a ConEd spokesman, told Metro that there were a total of 6,252 solar installations in the five boroughs and Westchester on Sept. 30: 467 in Brooklyn; 258 in the Bronx; 126 in Manhattan; 775 in Queens; 2,632 in Staten Island and 1,996 in Westchester. The total peak electricity is about 83 megawatts, and Drury said that roughly, 1 megawatt is enough to power 1,000 homes.
By comparison, there were just 134 in the same area in 2009.
A virtual map shows all the solar locations at nycsolarmap.com.
“We encourage customers to look into whether solar is right for them, and you can tell by the numbers, people have responded” Drury said.