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EcoWise: Affordable Solar Energy Set to Come to Pelham

Discounted solar energy is finally coming to the Town of Pelham through the Solarize Westchester program. The deadline for homeowners to sign a solar contract is June 4.

The model takes advantage of economies of scale in individual municipalities to bring down the installation cost of solar for interested residents and commercial property owners.

“[Solarize Pelham] is a way to be more responsible to our planet, our community, and each other,” said Town Supervisor Pete DiPaola.

Since it began operation in 2015, Solarize Westchester has conducted 11 Solarize campaigns in 20 Westchester municipalities, resulting in 500 solar installations. It is currently rolling out new efforts in Pelham and Croton, among other communities. “The municipalities we worked with have been very positive about the program,” said Nina Orville, principal of Abundant Efficiency, a sustainable consulting company that administers the overall program and coordinates between municipalities and solar contractors.

The selection of Pelham as a new Solarize market followed an extensive vetting process. Pelham first had to submit an application to Sustainable Westchester, which looks for a number of attributes, including whether the population is big enough to qualify for discount.

According to Pelham resident Lindsay Preftakes, who served as team lead on Solarize Pelham, “We also had to show that we had support through dedicated community members to run the campaign and civic organizations such as EcoPel.”

Village of Pelham Trustee and EcoPel liaison Ariel Spira-Cohen coordinated the municipal application process between Pelham and Sustainable Westchester. Pelham residents Kevin Healy and Maryann Joyce worked with former Pelhamite and EcoPel board member Christian Privat to initiate the application process last year.

Sustainable Westchester also promotes the opportunity to participate in Solarize Westchester with its municipal members and issues the requests for proposal to solar installers. Additionally, solar installers are pre-screened by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Pelham chose Ross Solar, a ConEdison Solutions Company, for the Solarize Pelham campaign, which has been the contractor for 21 other Solarize campaigns.

How big are the potential savings? Excluding the long-term reduction in energy costs, once the estimated 20 percent group discount is applied, along with a mix of rebates and tax credits, the price of a solar installation can drop by as much as two-thirds off the average market price of $28,000. Payment plans are also available through Ross.

An initial kickoff workshop was held on March 7, organized by the Solarize Pelham team with a presentation will by Ross. Other forums are being planned, including one focused on commercial property owners. While homeowners have until June 4 to sign a solar contract, commercial property owners can register for site visits until June 4 and wait until October to sign a contract.

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