By Marlaina Hunter
Photos: Adam Deen
Being part of a community feels good. Being part of a community that does good, feels great. SunCommon’s Community Solar Arrays (CSAs) in the Hudson Valley are doing just that.
First of all, what is a CSA? Well, think Community Supported Agriculture, but replace agriculture with clean, renewable solar energy. Community Solar Arrays are your local solar-farm co-ops; some people refer to this as off-site solar. When you buy into a CSA, you have all the benefits of owning a solar array for your home without installing anything on your roof. Members of a CSA use solar credits produced by that array to reduce their utility bill.
Some folks aren’t able to go solar on their property. Maybe their roof is incompatible, or their property is heavily shaded. Renters or condo owners might think that going solar is out of the question, but thanks to CSAs, that is not the case. SunCommon wants to tear down barriers to clean energy and help more people go solar, especially those who cannot install solar at their home. CSAs make solar energy available to many more in the community, which means more Hudson Valley residents can buy into a cleaner, cheaper source of energy.
SunCommon has two available CSAs in the Hudson Valley: in Kingston, at the Pointe of Praise Life Center, and in Sugar Loaf, at the Orange County Citizens Foundation. Together these arrays help approximately 120 homes go solar, eliminating roughly 778 metric tons of CO2 a year. That’s equivalent to offsetting the emissions from driving 1,901,873 miles—or 635 cross-country road trips every year!
The arrays will do more for the environment than just generate clean energy. They will also be home to wildflowers that support our important bird, bee, and bug friends; local farms and ecosystems depend on these pollinators to stay healthy and productive. SunCommon is delighted to help these creatures thrive by planting wildflowers in and around their Community Solar Arrays.
Of course, the environmental benefits of solar arrays are wonderful, but what is truly special is what happens within the community. At the Pointe of Praise Life Center, the reverend of the church, Reverend Childs, has donated 75 percent of the church’s own panels to low- and moderate-income seniors from the congregation. He notes, “We are really grateful for this because it’s going to provide an opportunity for people, who would otherwise not be able to do this, to have solar.”
Reverend Childs’s generous donation to his community is removing barriers to solar energy in the Hudson Valley and is another reason SunCommon is so proud to be part of this project that’s doing so much good for so many.
The Orange County Citizens Foundation’s mission of improving the lives of Orange County’s citizens fits right in with SunCommon’s mission. This CSA is located in Sugar Loaf, where the Citizens Foundation strives to create public spaces that capitalize on local community assets, inspiring citizens to adopt a healthy and happy lifestyle. The array will be complemented by a walking path for community members to enjoy the natural landscape, wildflowers and fresh air.
SunCommon strives to make its solar arrays fit in with the communities where they are hosted. The Citizens Foundation array is in Sugar Loaf, an artistic village, so SunCommon has created a grant for an artist to install a sculpture at the site. Michael Asbill and Maxine Leu have just been awarded a $3,000 grant to install a sculpture titled Kurt and Arlette (Sun and Ground) along the walking path that loops around the solar array. The sculpture doubles as a shelter and a food source for local wildlife and will be unveiled this spring.
Together these CSAs are broadening access to solar and bettering their surroundings, adding to the already vibrant Hudson Valley community. If you are interested in becoming a CSA member, visit SunCommon’s website to get started. █