community solar
The community solar farm in the South Bronx has more than 1,200 solar panels. PHoto: The Power Market

A local startup is offering New Yorkers a way to help the environment and get a discount on their electric bill, all without actually putting solar panels on your roof.

 

PowerMarket, a software company in the community solar industry, has launched a new solar project in the South Bronx, for which anyone in the five boroughs is eligible to join.

 

PowerMarket is a member of the New York University’s Urban Future Lab, an incubator for clean energy businesses, and it’s focused on bringing community solar throughout New York City and beyond.

 

Community solar is a way to get environmental and financial benefits of solar power without installing panels yourself. Residents can rent solar panels in a community garden, which is connected to the local energy grid, and see the savings on their electric bill.

 

This model is especially great for city-dwellers, said Nick Baudouin, co-founder of PowerMarket, since apartment renters would never have the option of installing solar panels on their roof.

 

“People don’t interact with energy; you turn a switch and a light goes on. We want people to interact with energy differently,” he said. “Living in an urban environment, a lot of people just assume, ‘I can’t go solar,’ and we want to be able to make sure there are other options out there for them.”

The South Bronx project is located on a rooftop in the Port Morris neighborhood. With more than 1,200 panels, it can supply energy to 125 New York City apartments.

Small businesses, depending on their electricity use, are eligible for this community solar garden, too. Those businesses, as well as any resident who joins the project, is guaranteed to see savings on their energy bill, Baudouin said.

For renters, “every month, we’ll try to put enough credit to offset your ConEd bill completely, or [make it] close to zero,” he said. For business owners, “we can guarantee to save them over $750 a year. … That’s really a win for smaller New York businesses.”

The project is currently taking on applicants and expected to begin in August. You can sign up by going to thepowermarket.com and choosing the South Bronx project. If it fills up before you can get onboard, don’t worry, Baudouin said, because there are more projects in the pipeline.