Serving the Capital Region
The volunteers of Solarize Albany are committed to community and regional sustainability. Using the Solarize model first demonstrated in 2009 in Portland Oregon, we have employed a two-pronged approach to increase the awareness and adoption of solar technology in the Capital District. The first element of the strategy is to provide outreach and education in targeted communities to increase awareness of both home solar (roof top and ground mounted) systems as well as Community Solar systems that are remote from the customer’s home but still produce power within the same community in which its customers reside. The second element is to provide a bulk discount for the purchase of solar technology from solar providers vetted by the Solarize Team.
In our first year, 2015, we focused geographically on Albany County and the municipal governments within it, and Community Solar was not yet available in New York State. As several members of Solarize Albany had connections with the municipal governments of Albany, Bethlehem, New Scotland and Knox, the majority of our initial municipal outreach was to those municipal governments. In addition, Solarize Albany was an active participant in regional cooperative efforts organized by the Capital District Regional Planning Commission (CDRPC), during which we shared best practices, lessons learned and resources to support the goal of regional sustainability within many Capital District communities.
In 2016, Community Solar became available and Solarize Albany added it to our outreach efforts in collaboration with Helderberg Community Energy (HCE). The following year we added electric vehicle (EV) and EV Charging Station information to our literature and outreach effort. Also, we broadened our geographic focus beyond Albany County to include the 8 counties served by CDRPC in its role as manager of the region’s Clean Energy Communities Program for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Our objective with our geographic expansion was to provide solarize services in parts of the region where they had previously existed but came to an end, and also to support the CDRPC’s Clean Energy Communities program and its efforts to encourage solarize campaigns as well as the deployment of EVs and EV Charging Stations across the Capital Region. Since the Spring of 2017 we have been working with CDRPC to support several municipal efforts to launch Solarize campaigns in their communities.
In 2018, Solarize Albany became engaged with a Renewable Energy-based Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) effort being launched in the Capital District. This initiative represented another way for consumers to purchase renewable energy through their existing utility delivery service, in this case from a municipally organized buying group. Numerous environmental and energy advocacy groups have come together to support this effort, including Solarize Albany, PAUSE, Sierra Club, the Green Energy and Legal Fund (GELF), and Bethlehem Tomorrow. This collaboration has led to the recent creation of a new nonprofit organization, Capital District Community Energy (CDCE).
In 2019, Solarize Albany began another collaboration with CDRPC and other regional community organizations to promote the use of geothermal and air source heat pumps to replace fossil fuel heating and cooling systems. The goal of this campaign is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by installing heat pumps for space heating and cooling, as well as water heating, preferably powered with renewable-based electricity.
As the Climate crisis worsens and public awareness increases, consumers can be confused about where to go for information on all the many options for reducing their carbon footprint and which ones offer the best economical options for their situation. Solarize Albany wants to be there to help consumers understand their options.
We'd love to get more people involved as volunteers! During regular times, we meet on the first and third Thursdays of the month at Honest Weight Food Co-Op. Volunteer opportunities include: outreach and presentations to community groups, writing letters to the editor of local newspapers about renewable energy, helping to evaluate proposals from solar vendors, market research, and tabling at events like the county fair, farmers’ markets and other regularly scheduled community gatherings.