MAMARONECK, NY — It was an overcast day when town of Mamaroneck leaders gathered this week at the Hommocks Apartments, just steps from the new community solar farm’s planned home atop the Hommocks Park Ice Rink, but the grey skies did not dampen the enthusiasm for the innovative project or the benefits of solar energy.
When the town of Mamaroneck opens its new community solar farm on the roof of the ice rink, the benefits will first be offered to residents of the nearby Hommocks Apartments affordable housing complex. The rooftop solar array is viewed as a way to not only help the community’s lower income residents to save money, but to also allow apartment residents who might otherwise be unable to install solar panels of their own to take advantage of the renewable energy resource.
The solar array on the ice rink is expected to be able to provide clean renewable energy for between 75 and 100 Mamaroneck households. Town officials hope most of those households are located in subsidized housing.
Mamaroneck is ensuring that benefits of the solar energy project are first offered to residents of its Housing Authority and the Washingtonville Housing Alliance and Section 8 Program. The town has set a goal of enrolling fifty percent of the total number of subscribers from locations like Hommocks Apartments.
“This project is a great example of creative sustainability efforts resulting in solar energy savings for residents who couldn’t otherwise have solar panels, revenue for the town from leasing the ice rink roof, and tax benefits for the solar developer,” Town Supervisor Nancy Seligson said, announcing efforts to bring solar energy to residents of subsided housing.”Everyone benefits.”
Although the Hommocks solar farm is just a few hundred yards away from the Hommocks apartments, nearby residents who sign up to get power from the array won’t be dependent on it for energy. Instead, community solar programs allow residents to subscribe to a solar installation located in their utility area — the energy produced from the solar farm is then sent to the electric grid. The utility will place credits on customers’ bills for their share of the solar energy provided by the solar farm.
In this case, those savings are intended for those who most need the extra money.
“We are proud to partner with the Town of Mamaroneck, a valued member of our organization, and with Sunlight General Capital on this initiative,” Sustainable Westchester Executive Director Nina Orville said. “We are thrilled with the focus on providing community solar benefits to renters who have previously been excluded from participating in solar energy programs.”
To raise awareness about the chance for low income residents to take advantage of solar energy, Sustainable Westchester is sending personalized invitations directly to those addresses. The invitations are being sent to addresses in subsidized housing first, but if there are still slots available, then the solar farm will open subscriptions to other members of the community.
As civic leaders gathered to answer questions about solar energy from residents of the Hommocks apartments, the sun finally broke through the clouds. It was beginning to look like it might be a good day for solar panels and a good day for low income Mamaroneck families in need of a break on their utility bills.