NEW YORK, NY As the solar industry continues its expansion to serve lower income communities, a New York solar leader, Quixotic Systems Inc. (QSI), has partnered with affordable housing developer Arker Companies to design and install rooftop solar energy systems for low-income communities in the NYC area.
The first project, Bay St. Senior Housing, is a six-story building offering apartments for low-income senior citizens located along Staten Island’s Stapleton waterfront. QSI designed and installed a 35.3 kilowatt (kW) rooftop system that includes 108 high-performance SunPower 327-watt solar panels. The system offsets 87% of the building’s energy use for shared-use areas that include computer facilities, a social services office and a fitness center.
Bay St. Senior Housing was partially financed with a grant from New York’s Low-Income Housing Credit Program (LIHC), which was established to promote private sector involvement in the retention and production of rental housing reserved for low-income households. The solar system helps reduce operational expenses and keep rents at an affordable level.
“QSI delivered a custom-designed, robust, aesthetically pleasing solar energy system that has performed extremely well and exactly as expected,” said Alex Aker, principal of Arker Cos. “We are always looking for subcontractors who can do high-quality work conforming to our own rigorous building schedule. QSI met that standard.”
The second solar project, currently under construction in Queens on a new affordable housing complex also developed by Arker Cos, will be a 92 kW SunPower Helix system -- a ballasted, rooftop system with 258 SunPower 360-watt solar panels which will not penetrate the roof’s surface at all.
Both projects will benefit from rebates from NYSERDA’s NY Sun - Residential/Small Commercial program as well as the federal Investment Tax Credit for commercial solar energy systems.
Energy Poverty in New York City
New York State’s low-income population includes nearly 2.3 million households earning less than 60 percent of the Area Median Income (or $53,000 for a family of four), according to NYSERDA. Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision is a comprehensive strategy to build a resilient, clean and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers, with specific initiatives to address low-income citizens. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, solar energy in New York State has increased almost 800% from 2012 to 2017.