NY Solar Farms- Scam?

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ikowik
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NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by ikowik »

I live in western New York. In the last few months I have received several mailings from Solar Farms NY asking me to join and lower my energy bill. Makes it sound like it is free money- so I smell a rat. Apparently this company is installing solar panel farms on waste land and by joining I get "energy credits". Anyone else received these mailings? What is the catch here?

As an aside western NY is not the best place to harvest solar energy :D
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

I have no idea about any particular companies involved, but NYS intends to install major renewable energy facilities by 2040.
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onourway
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by onourway »

I can't speak to the specific mailings you are getting, but this is quite common in NY right now. It turns out it's far more efficient and cost-effective to build large solar farms than tack them directly on to every single roof. So there is a business model there, but they need people to sign on to reach scale. Lots of people in our area have joined. I have considered it, although our electric bill is so insignificant I haven't bothered to do the leg work.
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FelixTheCat
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by FelixTheCat »

I live in California. There are solar farms that sell their electricity to the providers. I have the option to determine how much solar I want to receive from the solar farm. As an experiment, I chose 50% solar. My bill was lower by $1.
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quantAndHold
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by quantAndHold »

I have no idea about the mailings you’re getting or the business model behind it, but when we drove through upstate NY last summer there was a *lot* of solar. More than most of the other places we passed through on our trip across the country. Far more than I would have expected given how far north we were.
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WS1
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by WS1 »

Can’t speak to that operator but it’s called community solar and it’s going to be more important to the NYS grid as we march towards the glorious future of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Having your own panels might be more beneficial if you want solar and your home and finances can support it. Considering we can’t import solar from Arizona, western NY isn’t such an awful place.
emoore
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by emoore »

Agree with the other replies, not sure of the company but solar farms are getting more and more popular. It's a great way to invest in solar without having to put up panels on your roof or if you are in a condo or apartment. The more solar we install the better.
TheGreyingDuke
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

Not a scam, one of the models out there to help the state reach its goal regarding renewables, 70% by 2030. There are several approaches out there and you are being solicited for one of them.

Another approach is to actually "buy" panels that are being installed in a location that is favorable for solar collection (and yes, even Western NY makes it worthwhile). There is some question about the applicability of the state tax credit associated with these offerings and you are essentially pre-buying your electricity for the next 25 years. If you move within the service area of your utility, you can keep the panels. Otherwise, you need to try to negotiate their sale to someone within the service area.

A third approach is through ESCOs; in general, NY has severed the connection between who delivers the electricity to you and who you are buying the power from. There has been a recent upheaval in this market segment and the Public Service Commission has tightened the disclosures required but there are, in most areas, several to choose from. Some of them make various promises about selling you power that is derived from renewables, including solar.

There are also programs for low and moderate-income families that get them an automatic reduction in the cost of the first 200KwH they use.

Most of Upstate gets a good portion of its electricity from Niagra. Depending on what county you live in, there can be some good help from your local Cornell Community Extension office. They may support programs training volunteers to be Energy navigators and if not there may be some staff that focuses on these matters.

Another source for information is nyserda.ny.gov

Send along a private message if you would like some more details.
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fourwheelcycle
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by fourwheelcycle »

My wife and I were out bicycling last summer on a heavily shaded backcountry road in Vermont along a very scenic stream. We came upon a new, small but obviously very well constructed home. The owner was in the yard and we stopped and talked to him. He was very happy to tell us about his move to Vermont and construction of his new home. At one point he mentioned his home was almost entirely solar and I made a comment about the heavy shade all around us. He laughed and said he had invested in a solar farm up near St. Johnsbury, VT. I got the impression he had bought into a solar a co-op. The co-op sells electricity to the grid and he gets credits proportional to his investment to buy electricity back from grid.
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teen persuasion
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by teen persuasion »

TheGreyingDuke wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:16 pm Not a scam, one of the models out there to help the state reach its goal regarding renewables, 70% by 2030. There are several approaches out there and you are being solicited for one of them.

Another approach is to actually "buy" panels that are being installed in a location that is favorable for solar collection (and yes, even Western NY makes it worthwhile). There is some question about the applicability of the state tax credit associated with these offerings and you are essentially pre-buying your electricity for the next 25 years. If you move within the service area of your utility, you can keep the panels. Otherwise, you need to try to negotiate their sale to someone within the service area.

A third approach is through ESCOs; in general, NY has severed the connection between who delivers the electricity to you and who you are buying the power from. There has been a recent upheaval in this market segment and the Public Service Commission has tightened the disclosures required but there are, in most areas, several to choose from. Some of them make various promises about selling you power that is derived from renewables, including solar.

There are also programs for low and moderate-income families that get them an automatic reduction in the cost of the first 200KwH they use.

Most of Upstate gets a good portion of its electricity from Niagra. Depending on what county you live in, there can be some good help from your local Cornell Community Extension office. They may support programs training volunteers to be Energy navigators and if not there may be some staff that focuses on these matters.

Another source for information is nyserda.ny.gov

Send along a private message if you would like some more details.
I'm curious what you mean by most of upstate gets a good portion of its electricity from Niagara. Niagara Falls (the city), town of Niagara, Niagara County, the Niagara river, the Niagara Frontier, the Power Authority at the Falls...? I'm guessing the last one, but I've always understood that the power generated at the Power Authority is doled out to businesses, to encourage them to locate/stay in the area/state. Over the years, it seems that increasingly more of the blocks of power are shunted to downstate businesses, away from local ones. Only a small portion benefits local homeowners' electric usage. My bill says: "National Grid buys low cost energy...from the NYPA...this bill reflects a savings of $0.11 from these benefits."
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Svensk Anga
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by Svensk Anga »

ikowik wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 4:46 pm I live in western New York. In the last few months I have received several mailings from Solar Farms NY asking me to join and lower my energy bill. Makes it sound like it is free money- so I smell a rat. Apparently this company is installing solar panel farms on waste land and by joining I get "energy credits". Anyone else received these mailings? What is the catch here?

The catch is by going "green" via this operator, you are supporting plowing up nature and paving it with solar panels. If you must go solar, they belong on buildings, above parking lots, other spaces already developed.
3504PIR
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by 3504PIR »

If I lived in a state that was pushing solar, my instinct would be to install it on my roof with what I assume are good stat initiatives to do so. In your state I would be cautious to an extent given your northern climate. I would take some time to review the various options, particularly on my roof before doing anything like this. In Bavaria, you will see most roofs covered in panels. That seems to be similar to your location so returns may not be great but could be good with incentives. I would definitely put something into my own efficiency before a community project however as the ROI will mostly favor the individual in cases like this.
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dual
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by dual »

Solar energy is a complex field with rapidly changing technology that can make huge investments obsolete. See this Jan. 6, 2020 article from Bloomberg Businessweek:
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... ent-online
SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes received backing from Citigroup and the Obama Energy Department but couldn’t keep pace with technological advances.
In 2011 the $1 billion project was to be the biggest solar plant of its kind, and it looked like the future of renewable power. ... SolarReserve may have done its part, but today the company doesn’t rank among the winners. Instead, it’s mired in litigation and accusations of mismanagement at Crescent Dunes, where taxpayers remain on the hook for $737 million in loan guarantees.
I would stay away from any investments in solar energy until the technology settles and is shown to be viable.
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dodecahedron
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by dodecahedron »

teen persuasion wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:48 pm
TheGreyingDuke wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:16 pm Most of Upstate gets a good portion of its electricity from Niagra. Depending on what county you live in, there can be some good help from your local Cornell Community Extension office. They may support programs training volunteers to be Energy navigators and if not there may be some staff that focuses on these matters.

Another source for information is nyserda.ny.gov

Send along a private message if you would like some more details.
I'm curious what you mean by most of upstate gets a good portion of its electricity from Niagara. Niagara Falls (the city), town of Niagara, Niagara County, the Niagara river, the Niagara Frontier, the Power Authority at the Falls...? I'm guessing the last one, but I've always understood that the power generated at the Power Authority is doled out to businesses, to encourage them to locate/stay in the area/state. Over the years, it seems that increasingly more of the blocks of power are shunted to downstate businesses, away from local ones. Only a small portion benefits local homeowners' electric usage. My bill says: "National Grid buys low cost energy...from the NYPA...this bill reflects a savings of $0.11 from these benefits."
National Grid (the electric utility that serves much of Upstate NY) used to be called Niagara Mohawk (or NiMo for short.) They changed their business name in 2005. Many people informally still call them by some form of their older name.

We have been Niagara Mohawk/National Grid customers since we moved to Upstate NY over 30 years ago. They actually used to import a lot of hydro power from Canada as well as using Niagara Falls. I am not sure about now.

We are still served by National Grid (in that we are connected to their lines) but we only pay them the fixed $17 per month fee (plus tax). The rest of our bill is entirely covered by net metering credits for the solar generated from the 20 panels I bought in a solar farm about a 45 minute drive from my home.

It is a very good deal, much better for me than rooftop. The solar farm is ideally located in a large open field in front of a huge pond, which reflects additional sunlight onto the panels. The panels are oriented and angled ideally to capture as much solar as possible over the year.

The excess net metering credits carryover indefinitely. They don´t expire and the excess surplus doesn´t get redeemed at wholesale price at the end of each year as would have been the case with rooftop. The net metering credits just carryforward indefinitely. (They might come in handy if I get an electric car some day!)

The number of panels you are allowed to buy is limited by your prior 12-month usage history. My history would have allowed me to buy as many as 27 or 29 panels (I have forgotten which) but I decided that I could further optimize my efficiency, so I only bought 20. I have been successful in reducing usage and also the panels are generating more electricity than predicted so I am gradually building up a significant surplus. (I currently have a carryforward surplus of over 1,100 kWhrs and we are now past the darkest part of the year. I will draw the surplus down a bit more in March, probably be in balance in April, and start building up more surplus again in May.) I have been pleasantly surprised by how much solar my panels generate even in the winter. (It helps that we have not had much snow this winter.)

I got the federal tax credits just the same as rooftop would have been. I did not get the state tax credit, but I did get a prorated NYSERDA subsidy for my share of the community solar array.

At the end of 20 years, the lease for the land under the panels runs out. It can be renegotiated, but who knows what other technologies may be available by that time or where I will be living or if I will be living. (I was 64 when I bought them two years ago.) In any case, I or my heirs get to keep any remaining carryforward solar net transfer credits remaining at that time. I can transfer the solar net metering credits to anyone else in this large electric region (e.g., my heirs if any choose to live in this home or to a future buyer of this home) or I can take the net metering credits rights along with me if I or my heirs move within this area or I could donate them to the nonprofit of my choice, etc.
onourway
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by onourway »

Svensk Anga wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:46 pm The catch is by going "green" via this operator, you are supporting plowing up nature and paving it with solar panels. If you must go solar, they belong on buildings, above parking lots, other spaces already developed.
Have you ever been to upstate NY? Plenty of it was plowed up hundreds of years ago to make way for farming, which has been in continuous decline for decades. I don’t see it as a big deal if a few of those acres are now solar. Way more efficient to build them as a farm, ideally positioned, than on rooftops at whatever angle you can get. Not to mention many places can’t get enough power from rooftop panels alone.
TheGreyingDuke
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

And in one local site, there are sheep grazing among the panels
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Chris001122
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by Chris001122 »

Svensk Anga wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:46 pm
ikowik wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 4:46 pm I live in western New York. In the last few months I have received several mailings from Solar Farms NY asking me to join and lower my energy bill. Makes it sound like it is free money- so I smell a rat. Apparently this company is installing solar panel farms on waste land and by joining I get "energy credits". Anyone else received these mailings? What is the catch here?

The catch is by going "green" via this operator, you are supporting plowing up nature and paving it with solar panels. If you must go solar, they belong on buildings, above parking lots, other spaces already developed.
And that land is not insignificant. I did a calculation recently. Using the power generated per square mile at the nation's largest solar plant, I estimated how much land would be needed in square miles to supply the entire USA with just solar. Elon Musk came out with some small dot of land in Texas that would be needed. My calculation showed that the amount of land would exceed the entire state of Georgia and then some. Get your bulldozers out, let's make the earth "green" again.
"It's always been a mistake to bet against the United States since 1776." - Warren Buffett
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

dodecahedron wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:01 am It is a very good deal, much better for me than rooftop. The solar farm is ideally located in a large open field in front of a huge pond, which reflects additional sunlight onto the panels. The panels are oriented and angled ideally to capture as much solar as possible over the year.

The excess net metering credits carryover indefinitely. They don´t expire and the excess surplus doesn´t get redeemed at wholesale price at the end of each year as would have been the case with rooftop. The net metering credits just carryforward indefinitely. (They might come in handy if I get an electric car some day!)
In the northeast, there are probably many homeowners who can benefit from ground based solar installations on their own property. The land that is unbuildable because of ledge can often be used to plant a solar farm, and as dodecahedron points out, that gives the benefit of optimally orienting the panels, and has the added benefit that the panels are air cooled in summer, further increasing their output, and pitched aggressively to shed snow quickly. I do wish we had a pond to increase reflections, but we do often have snow on the ground :D

MA has legislated net metering credits will last iirc a minimum of 20 years. Excess can be donated to any meter served by your utility, so you can donate to a non-profit or a neighbor.
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Sourc3
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by Sourc3 »

dodecahedron wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:01 am
teen persuasion wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:48 pm
TheGreyingDuke wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:16 pm Most of Upstate gets a good portion of its electricity from Niagra. Depending on what county you live in, there can be some good help from your local Cornell Community Extension office. They may support programs training volunteers to be Energy navigators and if not there may be some staff that focuses on these matters.

Another source for information is nyserda.ny.gov

Send along a private message if you would like some more details.
I'm curious what you mean by most of upstate gets a good portion of its electricity from Niagara. Niagara Falls (the city), town of Niagara, Niagara County, the Niagara river, the Niagara Frontier, the Power Authority at the Falls...? I'm guessing the last one, but I've always understood that the power generated at the Power Authority is doled out to businesses, to encourage them to locate/stay in the area/state. Over the years, it seems that increasingly more of the blocks of power are shunted to downstate businesses, away from local ones. Only a small portion benefits local homeowners' electric usage. My bill says: "National Grid buys low cost energy...from the NYPA...this bill reflects a savings of $0.11 from these benefits."
National Grid (the electric utility that serves much of Upstate NY) used to be called Niagara Mohawk (or NiMo for short.) They changed their business name in 2005. Many people informally still call them by some form of their older name.

We have been Niagara Mohawk/National Grid customers since we moved to Upstate NY over 30 years ago. They actually used to import a lot of hydro power from Canada as well as using Niagara Falls. I am not sure about now.

We are still served by National Grid (in that we are connected to their lines) but we only pay them the fixed $17 per month fee (plus tax). The rest of our bill is entirely covered by net metering credits for the solar generated from the 20 panels I bought in a solar farm about a 45 minute drive from my home.

It is a very good deal, much better for me than rooftop. The solar farm is ideally located in a large open field in front of a huge pond, which reflects additional sunlight onto the panels. The panels are oriented and angled ideally to capture as much solar as possible over the year.

The excess net metering credits carryover indefinitely. They don´t expire and the excess surplus doesn´t get redeemed at wholesale price at the end of each year as would have been the case with rooftop. The net metering credits just carryforward indefinitely. (They might come in handy if I get an electric car some day!)

The number of panels you are allowed to buy is limited by your prior 12-month usage history. My history would have allowed me to buy as many as 27 or 29 panels (I have forgotten which) but I decided that I could further optimize my efficiency, so I only bought 20. I have been successful in reducing usage and also the panels are generating more electricity than predicted so I am gradually building up a significant surplus. (I currently have a carryforward surplus of over 1,100 kWhrs and we are now past the darkest part of the year. I will draw the surplus down a bit more in March, probably be in balance in April, and start building up more surplus again in May.) I have been pleasantly surprised by how much solar my panels generate even in the winter. (It helps that we have not had much snow this winter.)

I got the federal tax credits just the same as rooftop would have been. I did not get the state tax credit, but I did get a prorated NYSERDA subsidy for my share of the community solar array.

At the end of 20 years, the lease for the land under the panels runs out. It can be renegotiated, but who knows what other technologies may be available by that time or where I will be living or if I will be living. (I was 64 when I bought them two years ago.) In any case, I or my heirs get to keep any remaining carryforward solar net transfer credits remaining at that time. I can transfer the solar net metering credits to anyone else in this large electric region (e.g., my heirs if any choose to live in this home or to a future buyer of this home) or I can take the net metering credits rights along with me if I or my heirs move within this area or I could donate them to the nonprofit of my choice, etc.
My roof doesn’t allow for a meaningful installation of solar panels. I am very interested in solar farms but my cursory research landed me on a few articles only. If you don’t mind me asking, what company are you using and how did you find them?
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

onourway wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:13 am
Svensk Anga wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:46 pm The catch is by going "green" via this operator, you are supporting plowing up nature and paving it with solar panels. If you must go solar, they belong on buildings, above parking lots, other spaces already developed.
Have you ever been to upstate NY? Plenty of it was plowed up hundreds of years ago to make way for farming, which has been in continuous decline for decades. I don’t see it as a big deal if a few of those acres are now solar. Way more efficient to build them as a farm, ideally positioned, than on rooftops at whatever angle you can get. Not to mention many places can’t get enough power from rooftop panels alone.
MA is making good use of the circles inside highway cloverleafs. Cuts down on mowing expense also, but can remain “green.” Not large solar farms, but I see a few hundred panels in each, so maybe we should call them “victory gardens.” :D
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.
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dodecahedron
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by dodecahedron »

onourway wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:13 am
Svensk Anga wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:46 pm The catch is by going "green" via this operator, you are supporting plowing up nature and paving it with solar panels. If you must go solar, they belong on buildings, above parking lots, other spaces already developed.
Have you ever been to upstate NY? Plenty of it was plowed up hundreds of years ago to make way for farming, which has been in continuous decline for decades. I don’t see it as a big deal if a few of those acres are now solar. Way more efficient to build them as a farm, ideally positioned, than on rooftops at whatever angle you can get. Not to mention many places can’t get enough power from rooftop panels alone.
There is a solar array on a nearby town hall property (publicly owned property) which has a pollinator garden under and around it with wildflowers and other plants designed to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies to it. Previously the land just had grass growing on it. The local Girl Scout who designed the pollinator garden as part of her Gold Award won national recognition for her work. (The link explains the thinking behind her design
and shows the middle school Scouts she recruited to help her implement it.)
Valuethinker
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by Valuethinker »

dodecahedron wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:01 am
teen persuasion wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:48 pm
TheGreyingDuke wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:16 pm Most of Upstate gets a good portion of its electricity from Niagra. Depending on what county you live in, there can be some good help from your local Cornell Community Extension office. They may support programs training volunteers to be Energy navigators and if not there may be some staff that focuses on these matters.

Another source for information is nyserda.ny.gov

Send along a private message if you would like some more details.
I'm curious what you mean by most of upstate gets a good portion of its electricity from Niagara. Niagara Falls (the city), town of Niagara, Niagara County, the Niagara river, the Niagara Frontier, the Power Authority at the Falls...? I'm guessing the last one, but I've always understood that the power generated at the Power Authority is doled out to businesses, to encourage them to locate/stay in the area/state. Over the years, it seems that increasingly more of the blocks of power are shunted to downstate businesses, away from local ones. Only a small portion benefits local homeowners' electric usage. My bill says: "National Grid buys low cost energy...from the NYPA...this bill reflects a savings of $0.11 from these benefits."
National Grid (the electric utility that serves much of Upstate NY) used to be called Niagara Mohawk (or NiMo for short.) They changed their business name in 2005. Many people informally still call them by some form of their older name.

We have been Niagara Mohawk/National Grid customers since we moved to Upstate NY over 30 years ago. They actually used to import a lot of hydro power from Canada as well as using Niagara Falls. I am not sure about now.

We are still served by National Grid (in that we are connected to their lines) but we only pay them the fixed $17 per month fee (plus tax). The rest of our bill is entirely covered by net metering credits for the solar generated from the 20 panels I bought in a solar farm about a 45 minute drive from my home.

It is a very good deal, much better for me than rooftop. The solar farm is ideally located in a large open field in front of a huge pond, which reflects additional sunlight onto the panels. The panels are oriented and angled ideally to capture as much solar as possible over the year.

The excess net metering credits carryover indefinitely. They don´t expire and the excess surplus doesn´t get redeemed at wholesale price at the end of each year as would have been the case with rooftop. The net metering credits just carryforward indefinitely. (They might come in handy if I get an electric car some day!)

The number of panels you are allowed to buy is limited by your prior 12-month usage history. My history would have allowed me to buy as many as 27 or 29 panels (I have forgotten which) but I decided that I could further optimize my efficiency, so I only bought 20. I have been successful in reducing usage and also the panels are generating more electricity than predicted so I am gradually building up a significant surplus. (I currently have a carryforward surplus of over 1,100 kWhrs and we are now past the darkest part of the year. I will draw the surplus down a bit more in March, probably be in balance in April, and start building up more surplus again in May.) I have been pleasantly surprised by how much solar my panels generate even in the winter. (It helps that we have not had much snow this winter.)

I got the federal tax credits just the same as rooftop would have been. I did not get the state tax credit, but I did get a prorated NYSERDA subsidy for my share of the community solar array.

At the end of 20 years, the lease for the land under the panels runs out. It can be renegotiated, but who knows what other technologies may be available by that time or where I will be living or if I will be living. (I was 64 when I bought them two years ago.) In any case, I or my heirs get to keep any remaining carryforward solar net transfer credits remaining at that time. I can transfer the solar net metering credits to anyone else in this large electric region (e.g., my heirs if any choose to live in this home or to a future buyer of this home) or I can take the net metering credits rights along with me if I or my heirs move within this area or I could donate them to the nonprofit of my choice, etc.
I shall check re generation mix for NY System Operator.

EDIT here https://www.nyiso.com/documents/20142/6 ... 6743952778

Upstate NY is about 41% nuclear and about 41% hydro-electric.

Since electrons are anonymous one cannot really say where one's electricity is "from". One can only speak of averages.

Ontario is over 50% nuclear now. Therefore when it is exporting it is often nuclear baseload generation. Nuclear is not "flexxed" with demand but is always on or 100% off.

By contrast as Nanticoke Generating Station, once largest coal fired station in North America is shut,
so therefore Ontario's peak power is either stored hydro electricity (Niagara Falls has been repowered to upgrade capacity which is shared w NYS utilities and is the largest in Ontario) or gas fired. Coal fired power is also pulled in from the Midwest utilities.

So what is meaningful is both your average mix *and* your marginal mix ie at the time of day you use electricity. And estimating that can be complex.

The question then is one of "additionality". Did your selecting a solar supplier lead to a displacement of a kwhr of production which would otherwise have been produced with fossil fuels?

That's almost certainly true if you invested in new solar capacity - as you almost certainly did.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Sat Feb 08, 2020 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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dodecahedron
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by dodecahedron »

Sourc3 wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:37 am
dodecahedron wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:01 am
teen persuasion wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:48 pm
TheGreyingDuke wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:16 pm Most of Upstate gets a good portion of its electricity from Niagra. Depending on what county you live in, there can be some good help from your local Cornell Community Extension office. They may support programs training volunteers to be Energy navigators and if not there may be some staff that focuses on these matters.

Another source for information is nyserda.ny.gov

Send along a private message if you would like some more details.
I'm curious what you mean by most of upstate gets a good portion of its electricity from Niagara. Niagara Falls (the city), town of Niagara, Niagara County, the Niagara river, the Niagara Frontier, the Power Authority at the Falls...? I'm guessing the last one, but I've always understood that the power generated at the Power Authority is doled out to businesses, to encourage them to locate/stay in the area/state. Over the years, it seems that increasingly more of the blocks of power are shunted to downstate businesses, away from local ones. Only a small portion benefits local homeowners' electric usage. My bill says: "National Grid buys low cost energy...from the NYPA...this bill reflects a savings of $0.11 from these benefits."
National Grid (the electric utility that serves much of Upstate NY) used to be called Niagara Mohawk (or NiMo for short.) They changed their business name in 2005. Many people informally still call them by some form of their older name.

We have been Niagara Mohawk/National Grid customers since we moved to Upstate NY over 30 years ago. They actually used to import a lot of hydro power from Canada as well as using Niagara Falls. I am not sure about now.

We are still served by National Grid (in that we are connected to their lines) but we only pay them the fixed $17 per month fee (plus tax). The rest of our bill is entirely covered by net metering credits for the solar generated from the 20 panels I bought in a solar farm about a 45 minute drive from my home.

It is a very good deal, much better for me than rooftop. The solar farm is ideally located in a large open field in front of a huge pond, which reflects additional sunlight onto the panels. The panels are oriented and angled ideally to capture as much solar as possible over the year.

The excess net metering credits carryover indefinitely. They don´t expire and the excess surplus doesn´t get redeemed at wholesale price at the end of each year as would have been the case with rooftop. The net metering credits just carryforward indefinitely. (They might come in handy if I get an electric car some day!)

The number of panels you are allowed to buy is limited by your prior 12-month usage history. My history would have allowed me to buy as many as 27 or 29 panels (I have forgotten which) but I decided that I could further optimize my efficiency, so I only bought 20. I have been successful in reducing usage and also the panels are generating more electricity than predicted so I am gradually building up a significant surplus. (I currently have a carryforward surplus of over 1,100 kWhrs and we are now past the darkest part of the year. I will draw the surplus down a bit more in March, probably be in balance in April, and start building up more surplus again in May.) I have been pleasantly surprised by how much solar my panels generate even in the winter. (It helps that we have not had much snow this winter.)

I got the federal tax credits just the same as rooftop would have been. I did not get the state tax credit, but I did get a prorated NYSERDA subsidy for my share of the community solar array.

At the end of 20 years, the lease for the land under the panels runs out. It can be renegotiated, but who knows what other technologies may be available by that time or where I will be living or if I will be living. (I was 64 when I bought them two years ago.) In any case, I or my heirs get to keep any remaining carryforward solar net transfer credits remaining at that time. I can transfer the solar net metering credits to anyone else in this large electric region (e.g., my heirs if any choose to live in this home or to a future buyer of this home) or I can take the net metering credits rights along with me if I or my heirs move within this area or I could donate them to the nonprofit of my choice, etc.
My roof doesn’t allow for a meaningful installation of solar panels. I am very interested in solar farms but my cursory research landed me on a few articles only. If you don’t mind me asking, what company are you using and how did you find them?
The company I used was known as Hudson Solar at the time I bought into the solar farm. Hudson Solar had a long-established reputation in rooftop solar for many years before New York allowed community solar a couple years ago. Hudson Solar has now merged with another very experienced firm (based in Vermont, which has allowed community solar for longer than NY has.) The merged firm is now called SunCommon. As for how I found them, NYSERDA funded a local nonprofit in my area to sift through all the available offerings for good ones to recommend. There were two on their recommended list. I tire-kicked and talked to local techy folks whose opinions I trusted. I got on the waiting list for both and ultimately went with the first one to attract sufficient critical mass to break ground and make the project happen.

Here is a monitoring link that allows me or you (or anyone else interested) to see how much is being generated in real-time at any given moment and also allows me to see the recent history and total cumulative history of the power generated by the array. (This link is for the total array. My 20 panels are 3.3% of the array so I need to multiply by that percentage to figure my power.) The ¨lifetime¨ figures date from the opening of the facility in Dec 2017. The link also gives the current weather conditions near the array. (Note that the past few days we have gotten a lot of ice and snow and it has been very overcast around here, so the stats for the past couple days are pitiful. However, the sun is out today and it looks like the accumulated snow and ice must have suddenly melted and slid off the panels around 8 am this morning so the panels are now producing again!)
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dodecahedron
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by dodecahedron »

Valuethinker wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 8:14 am Since electrons are anonymous one cannot really say where one's electricity is "from". One can only speak of averages.
You are of course correct that electrons are anonymous and if you are connected to the North American grid you can´t meaningfully speak about where it is from. (I do have a friend with a cabin in the Adirondacks, which is off-grid, and he built his own solar array on his property, so he can actually talk about where his electricity is from.)

However, what you can meaningfully say (at least in theory) is what purchasing source contracts the public utilities commission allows your local utility to use for the cost-accounting that determines the rates they are allowed to charge you. Our local utility (National Grid Upstate NY) is part of a big multinational corporation based in London. They have operating divisions in many different places and a complex array of contractual arrangements to purchase power from various sources. Our particular operating division (National Grid Upstate NY) has some allowable cost of power which is determined by the specific subset of contracts the PUC allows them to include in their cost accounting for our load zone. There is also an operating division of National Grid downstate and one in nearby Massachusetts. I have no idea how they do the exact cost accounting across these, but it is my impression that cheap and abundant hydropower in this area has helped to keep Upstate NY electric rates lower than elsewhere.

Of course, none of this cost accounting stuff means anything to *me* any more as I have more than enough net metering credits from my solar farm investment to cover all my electricity usage. All I pay now is the fixed connection fee, $17 per month plus tax, which has stayed the same for many years and does not vary with power purchase contracts.
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by Valuethinker »

dodecahedron wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 8:51 am
Valuethinker wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 8:14 am Since electrons are anonymous one cannot really say where one's electricity is "from". One can only speak of averages.
You are of course correct that electrons are anonymous and if you are connected to the North American grid you can´t meaningfully speak about where it is from. (I do have a friend with a cabin in the Adirondacks, which is off-grid, and he built his own solar array on his property, so he can actually talk about where his electricity is from.)

However, what you can meaningfully say (at least in theory) is what purchasing source contracts the public utilities commission allows your local utility to use for the cost-accounting that determines the rates they are allowed to charge you. Our local utility (National Grid Upstate NY) is part of a big multinational corporation based in London. They have operating divisions in many different places and a complex array of contractual arrangements to purchase power from various sources. Our particular operating division (National Grid Upstate NY) has some allowable cost of power which is determined by the specific subset of contracts the PUC allows them to include in their cost accounting for our load zone. There is also an operating division of National Grid downstate and one in nearby Massachusetts. I have no idea how they do the exact cost accounting across these, but it is my impression that cheap and abundant hydropower in this area has helped to keep Upstate NY electric rates lower than elsewhere.
It depends how the power is charged.

That is, if all the electricity goes into one big pool run by the ISO (the norm, see my chart above in my edited post) then all consumers pay the same wholesale price (or rather, their local distribution company pays that price, then recharges their retail supplier). Individual consumers then pay that price + any transmission & distribution charges or other charges.

If there's only one wholesale price for New York ISO, then upstate consumers only benefit from local hydro-electric power sources to the extent that it lowers the general wholesale price - downstate consumers also benefit. If there are different wholesale prices for different regions then what you say is correct.

http://mis.nyiso.com/public/htm/damlbmp ... p_zone.htm

Zonal pricing suggests to me that it does price by zone in particular there is one named "Genesee" - which would be upstate? Thus, there would be some impact from greater availability of hydro electric upstate.

That would primarily be Niagara Falls. There's a mention of a transfer constraint with Ontario, so that would restrict imports.
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by Svensk Anga »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:40 am
onourway wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:13 am
Svensk Anga wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:46 pm The catch is by going "green" via this operator, you are supporting plowing up nature and paving it with solar panels. If you must go solar, they belong on buildings, above parking lots, other spaces already developed.
Have you ever been to upstate NY? Plenty of it was plowed up hundreds of years ago to make way for farming, which has been in continuous decline for decades. I don’t see it as a big deal if a few of those acres are now solar. Way more efficient to build them as a farm, ideally positioned, than on rooftops at whatever angle you can get. Not to mention many places can’t get enough power from rooftop panels alone.
MA is making good use of the circles inside highway cloverleafs. Cuts down on mowing expense also, but can remain “green.” Not large solar farms, but I see a few hundred panels in each, so maybe we should call them “victory gardens.” :D
I would call the cloverleaf circles “space already developed”. A disused farm ought to return to nature.
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by ikowik »

Thanks to all who have responded. I will check out this offer and report back if I learn something new.
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by dknightd »

ikowik wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:20 pm Thanks to all who have responded. I will check out this offer and report back if I learn something new.
Thanks!
I own panels in part of a community solar farm in NY. So far it has worked for me. I had the option to lease the panels, or buy them. I choose to buy (15 year 0% loan). I hope that was the right decision. So far it saves me a little on my electric bill, in the long term (once the panels have been paid off) it could save me even more. My house is poorly suited for solar panels (faces the wrong way, not much flat roof, surrounded by trees) but it turns out we can lease open field from a farmer situated near power lines for very little money. Apparently you can make more money harvesting solar power than you can from growing hay under a power line. Win win.
There are long term risks. The price of electricity could fall if more efficient technologies come along. Somebody could break the contract we signed. It was (is) a risk. But now I'm typing on a solar powered computer, which makes me happy.
I still get mail suggesting I sign up for solar power. Probably the same ones you are getting. I have not looked into them, since I already have solar electricity :)
My ideal would be independent power. Maybe one day.
For now I'm happy saving a little money, and having that warm fuzzy feeling. I hope I, and the land owner, feel the same way in 25 years. I hope it is cheaper to recycle my old panels than it is to recycle an old power plant. I like to think we both made the right decision.
If you value a bird in the hand, pay off the loan. If you are willing to risk getting two birds (or none) from the market, invest the funds.
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam? Update

Post by ikowik »

So I went through their website (solarfarmsny.com) and also emailed them. Here is what I understand of the process:
-I sign up as a member of Solar Farms NY. No fee, but contact info including email needed
-Solar Farms NY sends solar energy to the electricity company I use- in this case NYSEG
-NYSEG reduces my electricity bill based on the amount of solar energy they received
-I pay Solar Farms NY the discount I was given by NYSEG minus 5% of the amount. They will send me a bill monthly as well as NYSEG

Murky area: How much solar energy credit (discount) can I expect a month? Solar Farms send me a canned reply that I will save 5% of whatever discount I get from NYSEG, but nothing more specific.

My monthly electricity bill is approximately $100. If solar energy replaced all of it (highly unlikely), I will save $5 a month. Most likely it will be smaller, maybe even $1. For this I have to deal with another company to pay and keep track.
I am all for renewable energy, but this deal does not seem worth the trouble at this time.
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam? Update

Post by BolderBoy »

ikowik wrote: Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:45 amMy monthly electricity bill is approximately $100. If solar energy replaced all of it (highly unlikely), I will save $5 a month. Most likely it will be smaller, maybe even $1. For this I have to deal with another company to pay and keep track.

I am all for renewable energy, but this deal does not seem worth the trouble at this time.
Last year, I got a "solar garden" mailing (what they are called in Colorado, apparently) from a guy who owns a 40-acre-ish farm a bit north of Longmont, CO. He was soliciting buyers into his solar farm (I guess he is tired of being a regular farmer). I'd never heard of a "solar garden" so of course posted to the BH forum immediately asking about them...and there were zero responses so I let it go.

At the time, I looked into other solar gardens around Colorado - there are a number of them. I ran the numbers for each of them, including for the original solicitation I received and which solar garden won't be operational for a few years.

Like you, I found that the numbers don't add up for now. I'm quite happy that @dodecahedron is getting such a good return on her investment in a solar garden but the setup must be quite different in NY vs CO.
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

For any solar installation, you'd start with what you're paying in total per kWHr. Not sure what upstate NY pays with easy access to Canada and a bit closer to fracking sites. In New England, we're around 20 cents per kWHr all in, due to the constraint on natural gas which fires most of the plants here. There are no coal plants in Mass. Mass also has tons of state programs to help owners put solar on their roof, including paying for 20 years of expected output up front to make installation of a system free. I expect there are similar incentives for commercial solar farms as they are everywhere around the state. As mentioned about the cloverleaf usage, there are also a number of smaller farms along the highways (495 just south of 9) and the turnpike in multiple places. Lots of farms in more out of the way places that I've seen from area in between roadways and railroads to next to apple orchards.
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam? Update

Post by seity »

ikowik wrote: Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:45 am So I went through their website (solarfarmsny.com) and also emailed them. Here is what I understand of the process:
-I sign up as a member of Solar Farms NY. No fee, but contact info including email needed
-Solar Farms NY sends solar energy to the electricity company I use- in this case NYSEG
-NYSEG reduces my electricity bill based on the amount of solar energy they received
-I pay Solar Farms NY the discount I was given by NYSEG minus 5% of the amount. They will send me a bill monthly as well as NYSEG

Murky area: How much solar energy credit (discount) can I expect a month? Solar Farms send me a canned reply that I will save 5% of whatever discount I get from NYSEG, but nothing more specific.

My monthly electricity bill is approximately $100. If solar energy replaced all of it (highly unlikely), I will save $5 a month. Most likely it will be smaller, maybe even $1. For this I have to deal with another company to pay and keep track.
I am all for renewable energy, but this deal does not seem worth the trouble at this time.
This pretty much exactly matches the math I came up with based on their information and my NYSEG bill. It didn't seem worth it. I also use an ESCO for my energy supply and that cost is actually very low per month. 80%+ of my bill, if not more, is the delivery charge every month and I don't see how going solar is going to help with that.
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by cow2killer »

My mother joined not knowing what she was getting herself into.
She cancelled after her electric bill doubled.
Then solar farms started taking money out of her account for the credits they gave her on her electric bill.

Crazy! Stay away.
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Re: NY Solar Farms- Scam?

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (electric bill).

cow2killer, Welcome!
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