NRG Renewables rebrands community solar division as Clearway Community Solar

Clearway Energy Logo

NRG Renewables and its Community Solar division, NRG Community Solar, have formally become Clearway Community Solar under a new parent company, Clearway Energy Group. Clearway is one of the largest Community Solar providers in the United States.

“Our solar farms provide a simple way for residents, businesses, schools, hospitals and municipalities to go solar without placing any panels on their property. And now as part of the greater Clearway family, we are proud to be producing solar and wind energy across twenty-eight states,” says Clearway Community Solar Director, Krishna Patel.

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Clearway Community Solar builds and operates local solar farms, including some of the largest Community Solar farms in the United States. One Community Solar farm typically has enough capacity for approximately 300 customers.

Solar energy generated from Clearway Community Solar farms is sent to the local power grid, and subscribers then receive bill credits on their utility bill that help offset their utility costs. Customers pay nothing upfront and no panels have to be installed on their property.

From 2015 to date, nearly 15,000 community solar customers in New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Colorado have signed up through Clearway and its predecessor.

— Solar Builder magazine

ForeFront Power connects community solar to National Grid and Rochester Gas & Electric service territory

Forefront power

ForeFront Power’s first Community Solar projects in New York are now operational for subscribers across National Grid and Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E) service territories. The nine projects, representing 27 megawatts (MW) of capacity, are the first of a portfolio of over 75 MW across New York expected to be complete by the end of 2019.

For all these completed New York projects, ForeFront Power selected Arcadia Power to subscribe interested customers to a portion of the energy produced from these projects. Households can join a Community Solar project by visiting Arcadia Power’s website to enroll.

This innovative model allows subscribers to adopt solar energy in just a few minutes. A subscription to a ForeFront Power Community Solar project means a subscriber simply sees a reduction on his or her monthly utility bill while the rest is handled by Arcadia Power. Arcadia Power’s online dashboard provides an easy way for customers to connect their existing utility accounts, track impact, and stay up to date on billing.

ForeFront Power is developing Community Solar projects to serve subscribers across Central Hudson Gas and Electric, ConEdison, National Grid, New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG), Orange and Rockland Utilities, and Rochester Gas & Electric utility service territories. Most projects are construction-ready with the first 27 MW completed at the end of 2018.

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“These projects are the first of many to serve customers with this innovative subscription model,” said Paul Walker, Co-CEO of ForeFront Power. “These projects also represent a tremendous investment across the State that is resulting in local job growth and a contribution toward New York’s renewable energy goals.”

These solar energy projects will generate more than 90 million kilowatt-hours annually, representing the equivalent of 70,155 tons of carbon avoided from the grid or 13,512 cars off the road.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just announced a goal to produce 100 percent clean energy across New York by 2040 while doubling the NY-Sun Initiative goal to 6 gigawatts by 2023. The goals were part of his State of the State address in Albany on January 14.

— Solar Builder magazine

SunShare tops the 100 MW mark for community solar garden development


With the recent completion of the SaintSun project in St. Michael, Minnesota, SunShare has now completed development on 105 MW of solar across 77 community solar gardens and has signed up over 8,300 commercial and residential subscribers in Colorado and Minnesota. This makes SunShare the first community solar garden company to surpass 100 MW of developed community solar projects.

“When I started SunShare in 2011 and helped develop the nation’s first competitive community solar program in Colorado Springs, the goal was to bring the benefits of solar power to as many people as possible,” said David Amster-Olszewski, SunShare’s founder and CEO. “Surpassing 100 megawatts of community solar projects is an important milestone in achieving that goal. I look forward to achieving the next 100 megawatts and delivering the power to choose clean energy to thousands more subscribers across the country.”

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According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), 1,226 cumulative megawatts of community solar have been installed across the United States (through the second quarter of 2018) with 42 states having at least one community solar project online. Competitive community solar programs got their start with SunShare’s 2 MW pilot program in Colorado Springs in 2011 and are now the fastest growing sector of the solar industry according to a 2018 report by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

SunShare now serves the largest active residential subscriber base in the community solar industry. SunShare’s community solar gardens enable homeowners, renters, government organizations, and small businesses that may not otherwise have the ability to install solar panels on their home or building to participate in and benefit from the transition to renewable energy.

— Solar Builder magazine

New Mexico puts community solar legislation on the table

New Mexico

Legislation was introduced in New Mexico recently to expand bill-saving benefits of solar to all residents, including those who rent, have unsuitable roofs, or lack financial flexibility, by allowing community solar development in the state. The Community Solar Act (HB210), sponsored by Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero and Senator Elizabeth Stefanics, would enable residents to subscribe to a local community solar project to save money.

“Community Solar gives our communities the opportunity to access an affordable, natural and abundant renewable energy option to help transition our collective efforts towards living in a healthier and cleaner climate,” said Representative Roybal Caballero.

While solar is already providing significant economic and environmental benefits for nearly two million households nationwide, the majority of Americans face physical or financial barriers to the traditional rooftop solar. With HB210, New Mexico residents can choose to participate as one of multiple subscribers to a local community solar installation, saving money on their own bill while participating in the state’s growing clean energy economy. Today, 19 states and the District of Columbia allow community solar programs, creating thousands of jobs and spurring local economic investments in those states.

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“It’s time for all New Mexicans to have access to the benefits of our solar,” said Art Terrazas, Interior West Director at Vote Solar. “Community solar means that all New Mexico families and tribes, regardless of income or any other factors, can save money from our state’s plentiful sunshine. We’re thrilled that Representative Caballero is championing the opportunity for solar to benefit all, and we look forward to getting it across the finish line.”

“Lower electric bills, cleaner energy, more green jobs, and a healthier environment, that is the promise of solar energy. And now, thanks to the Community Solar Act, legislation introduced by Reps. Patricia Roybal Caballero and Elizabeth Stefanics, New Mexicans are one step closer to accessing these benefits by way of a new community solar program,” said Luis Torres, Senior Legislative Representative for Earthjustice. “With community solar, families of all income levels are able to harness the power of the sun from a shared community solar array in their neighborhood. Families living in apartments or homes with limited or no rooftop access, as well as those who can’t afford to cover the upfront costs of solar, will have a chance to subscribe to a shared array and access the benefits of solar. We are hopeful that this legislation will become law and will put New Mexico at the forefront of community solar in the nation.”

“GRID Alternatives commends the state of New Mexico for setting a new bar for equitable community solar policy, which provides specific language directly including Indian Nations, Tribes and Pueblos as well as a strong program carveout for low-income New Mexicans who can most benefit from solar access,” said Tom Figel, Director of Community Solar.

“GRID Alternatives’ Tribal Program has been active in New Mexico since 2015 and looks forward to opportunities to expand our partnerships through community solar,” said Tim Willink, Director of Tribal Programs.

— Solar Builder magazine

Nautilus Solar Energy adds 3-MW Rhode Island community solar project to its portfolio


Welcome to Rhode Island Sign

Nautilus Solar Energy acquired a 3 MW community solar development from ISM Solar Development LLC, a developer of large commercial and utility-scale solar projects. The project is qualified under Rhode Island’s emerging community solar program. Construction is targeted for completion during the first half of 2019.

Nautilus will be responsible for the project management, customer subscription, and long-term asset management and maintenance services for this project. The project will be owned by an affiliate of Virgo Investment Group, which is also a minority shareholder of Nautilus. The energy generated by the projects will directly benefit qualified residential off-takers situated within National Grid’s service territory by providing energy cost savings while also advancing Rhode Island’s overall renewable energy goals.

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“We’re proud that this project will be one of the first community solar projects in Rhode Island. We’re particularly pleased that the site requires minimal tree clearing, avoids wetland areas, and is generally not visible from roads or homes,” said Greg Lucini, CEO of ISM Solar. “The Nautilus team was great to work with and adapted quickly to our development requirements,” he added.

“We are impressed with ISM’s responsible solar development standards and the portfolio of low impact, well sited projects they have under development.” said Jim Rice, CEO of Nautilus. “We’re particularly excited that this project propels Nautilus’s community solar expansion into Rhode Island, our fifth market entry over the last year” added Jeffrey Cheng, COO of Nautilus.

— Solar Builder magazine