SunPower: Transformative Business Model Unlocks Financial Potential

 A new opportunity has opened up for owners of Queens commercial buildings looking to gain income from renting out their unused roof space. As a result of a new statewide renewable energy policy that permits community solar, businesses can now rent out their roof to host solar panels.

The community solar business model allows businesses to receive rent payments for this previously untapped real estate, while the owner of the system virtually sells the clean energy to local members of the community.

This seemingly complex business model is actually more simple than it sounds – business owners provide roof access, while solar developers pay them a monthly or annual rent payment for the space. Once the system is up and running, ConEd customers can “subscribe” to a share of the solar system and buy energy at a discounted rate.

This benefits the community for a number of reasons; it contributes to the local economy by supporting local solar developers, providing a new income stream to property owners, and access to discounted energy for residents.

This also allows the deployment of more clean energy, thus improving economic independence on oil, while improving air quality, and environmental health.

The policy responsible for community-shared solar is called community distributed generation, or CDG. CDG is an electric utility billing mechanism that credits the owner of a system for the electricity they contribute to the grid. Rather than using the electricity, the owner of the panels exports the entire production of the system to different local subscribers of the energy.

The reason this model is so transformative is because it helps to grow renewables to a larger scale, while offering energy at a lower price point than what consumers are already paying.

This comes at a time when New York City has its sights set on going 50 percent renewable by 2030. New York is on the forefront of sustainability, due in large part to top-level political engagement through city and statewide programs and incentives.

There is still plenty of work to be done, and great obstacles to overcome in the realm of cleaning the statewide energy grid, however community solar, among other sources, could play an influential role in that transition.

While the community solar model is a new and beneficial way to go solar, businesses who are able to get involved with the project beyond hosting have major benefits to gain. Going solar makes economic sense for commercial clients who want to use the energy on-site themselves.

The cost of production of solar is cheaper than utility rates, so commercial solar projects lower the variable operation costs normally spent on utility bills.

Ratepayers have been seeing a steady increase in electric rates that have almost doubled since 1990. Going solar cuts down on overhead costs, while decreasing the carbon footprint of the business. Electricity bills take up a large percentage of a company’s monthly costs, while going solar could offset the entirety of the usage of the building at a lower price.

Solar in New York is a robust and expansive market. It’s ranked in the top 10 nationally for solar capacity, as a result of increasing electricity rates and impactful tax incentives. There are many solar companies operating in the space including Queens Chamber of Commerce member SunPower by EmPower Solar, which offers community solar, lease, loan, and ownership options for both commercial and residential projects.

For more information on CDG and SunPower by EmPower Solar, contact Samantha Padreddii at (516) 837-3459 or

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