Another option for churches in the Solarize Our Congregation initiative:
Churches served by Central Hudson have the option to purchase their electricity from a solar farm being developed in New Windsor, New York.
A church choosing to subscribe to this solar farm would receive a reduction of up to 10% of the total electric bill. In addition each church would receive a $200 payment for signing the agreement and $150 for every church member household signing an agreement for a similar saving on their electric bill. This is a benefit organized by HRP Green which will receive a small payment for each church subscribing.
The length of agreement is 20 years however people can cancel at any time with no termination fees. If cancelling, 60 days notice should be provided so a new person, or account, can be slotted in for the solar allocation.
The sign up process can either be completed digitally, at this link: https://powermarket.io/project/new-windsor-community-solar.html with Nina Orville, (Abundant Efficiency, Nina@AbundantEfficiency.com 914-693-6222) walking people through the process or it can be done in hard copy (Nina can send documents or walk someone through the process in person). The process requires basic information to be provided: name, address, Central Hudson account number and then the agreement is executed (either digitally or hard copy).
Participation provides savings of up to 10% of the utility bill. A credit associated with a subscriber’s share of the value of the energy produced is placed on the utility bill, reducing the bill by the amount of the credit. The subscriber then pays 90% of the amount of the credit via ACH debit (direct withdrawal from the church checking account one week after a bill is received by the church) to the solar developer (e.g. if they receive a $100 credit on their Central Hudson bill, they will pay $90 via ACH debit for that credit). Payment for the credit always occurs after receiving the credit and an email is sent out in advance each month with the details of the credit and the related payment (which will always be 90% of the credit amount). ACH (direct withdrawal) is required to reduce management costs for this service.
Information needed from HRP:
For non-residential accounts, the solar developer (and their financiers) typically require 2 years of financial statements however, to streamline the process for the individual HRP churches, they have agreed to accept 2 years of the Presbytery’s financials (showing the endowment, etc.) thereby eliminating the requirement for individual churches to provide information . In addition, the Stated Clerk mentioned providing language that clarifies that the Presbytery has a trust relationship with church properties. The Stated Clerk of Hudson River Presbytery has previously sent an email indicating that if a church were to close, the Presbytery would arrange payment of outstanding bills as part of the closure of the church.
Benefit to Solarize
Abundant Efficiency, the Administrator of Solarize Our Congregation and Solarize Westchester, is partnering with PowerMarket, the company that has the contract with the solar developer to subscribe people to this solar array. We have chosen the strategy of partnering with local organizations to get the word out and making donations back to those organizations rather than using the more typical approach of using those funds for mass mailings and to send people to knock on doors. We want the local partners (which also include environmental groups) to keep more of the financial benefit themselves and we hope that those relationships will make it easier to reach people who will want to sign up as subscribers. Abundant Efficiency will be paid a portion of the fees that PowerMarket receives, net of all the expenses for running this effort. In the past, PowerMarket has indicated that it costs them about what they receive in compensation for this work (about $600/subscriber) to obtain each subscriber over the course of the subscription effort. We are testing the hypothesis that we can make payments back to partners (e.g. in this case, HRP churches) and have the economics work. It remains to be seen if that is correct!
Benefit to HRP Green
HRP Green will receive $10/ per installation from the regular Solarize Our Congregation program (and the churches were receiving $240 for each congregant who went solar). With community solar, the churches will receive $200 when they sign up themselves, $150 for each member of their congregation who signs up and HRP Green will receive $10. PowerMarket will make the payments to the churches and Abundant Efficiency will make the payments to HRP Green.
Just a side note, I (Nina Orville) was able to join a community solar project managed by PowerMarket in Westchester just over 2 years ago. The process has been very smooth for me and I've saved well over $400 by participating (while supporting local renewable energy). My experience has been purely positive which makes me glad to bring this opportunity to more people.
Hudson River Presbytery Churches eligible for participation:
2 First, Beacon
3 Cold Spring
4 Campbell Hall, Hamptonburgh
7 Freedom Plains, LaGrangeville
11 First, Montgomery
12 Bethlehem, New Windsor
13 Calvary, Newburgh
14 Union, Newburgh
15 Pine Plains
16 Pleasant Valley
17 Salt Point
18 Pleasant Plains, Staatsburg
19 First, Wappingers Falls