You can have solar energy, too, as Renovus rolls out pay-as-you-go service

Central New York residents who don’t own their own home, or who own shaded homes that aren’t in sunny spots, have a new option for solar power without a huge investment. Renovus is rolling out pay-as-you-go community solar at the Ithaca Festival.

Renovus Tompkins Community SolarRenovus Community Solar already made it possible for area residents to buy part of a shared solar “farm” (and still take advantage of grants and tax incentives) for those who couldn’t install solar equipment at their homes, or for non-profits to band together as a collective.

But even with grants, affordable loans, and tax incentives, owning part of one of Renovus’s solar farms is beyond the reach of many. Under a new pay-as-you-go plan, Renovus will be able to sell solar power “subscriptions” with no up-front investment required. “Now income, credit score, and roof conditions are no longer barriers preventing people from going solar,” the company says.

City of Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick says the opportunity for anyone to purchase electricity from Renovus means “solar is no longer a commodity of privilege.” He says the project is at the forefront of New York’s clean-energy policy, “making solar accessible to our entire community.”

Renovus will be making pay-as-you-go solar available to just 1,000 subscribers at first, and is holding open enrollment beginning this Saturday at 11:30am at their Ithaca Festival booth at the center of the Ithaca Commons.

Emma Hewitt at Renovus says the community solar farm model, whereby the company builds shared solar arrays on behalf of multiple owners, “has truly transformed the possibilities for who can go solar and how, eliminating one of the main barriers that have kept many people locked out from making the switch.” The pay-as-you-go model eliminates another huge barrier.

“We’ve had great response to our Community Solar Initiative,” she says. “We’ve held meetings in Tompkins County, but also the wider region, going to places like Horseheads, Corning, Watkins Glen, Canandaigua, Cortland, Syracuse, and beyond.”

Under the pay-as-you-go plan, customers will be able to subscribe to electricity that will be delivered through their existing NYSEG equipment, with rates 10% below what they currently pay, based on their estimated usage. By looking at each customer’s usage history, Hewitt says, “we will be able to recommend a plan that gets as close to meeting 100% of their consumption as possible.” If they’re buying more electricity from Renovus than they use, they’ll get credits to apply at the end of the year, and if they use more electricity than they’ve bought, they’ll just pay NYSEG for the extra. At the end of each yearly contract, Renovus customers can adjust the amount they’ll buy, or discontinue their service.

“It’s really exciting to see a local, homegrown company that is on the cutting edge of creating a community solar model that is accessible to all, and that will make great strides in helping the County reach its emissions reduction goals,” said Heather McDaniel, vice president of Tompkins County Area Development, in a statement. She and Mayor Myrick will speak at Saturday’s Renovus event, along with environmentalist Sandra Steingraber.

“Now, everyone can choose solar,” says Sarah J. Kelsen of Renovus. “With pay-as-you-go solar, your income doesn’t matter, your credit doesn’t matter, your roof doesn’t matter, but your choice does.”

After interested customers sign up at the Renovus booth at the Ithaca Festival on Saturday, company representatives will be in touch to discuss each customer’s electricity needs and current usage. There’s no commitment required this weekend.

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