QUEENSBURY — Solar just got cheaper for everyone in the southern Adirondacks.
Queensbury is running a Southern Adirondacks for Solar campaign that kicks off Saturday. If property owners buy solar panels during the campaign — which runs through October — they will get an extra credit from NYSERDA of 35 cents per watt. It amounts to a discount of 10 percent to 20 percent, on average.
Property must be in Queensbury, Glens Falls, Hague, Bolton, Horicon, Warrensburg, Chester or the village or town of Lake George.
The discount could make solar immediately cheaper than regular electricity, even when the cost of the solar-energy system is taken into account.
For example, if the typical home has a $150 monthly electricity bill, the owner could end up saving $8 a month from the start, even while paying off the cost of the solar-energy system. That typical owner would have a monthly loan payment of $125 for solar and a $17 electrical bill from National Grid. That’s the company’s basic service charge, which must be paid even when the owner is using solar panels. The panels are hooked to the grid.
“So, you’d still be paying less even though you’d be paying a loan,” said Kathy Bozony, chairwoman of Queensbury’s Clean Energy Community Committee. She is coordinating the Solarize campaign.
The typical loan is for seven years, although loans of up to 20 years are allowed, she added.
To get specific information about a particular property, owners should attend the Solarize kickoff event Saturday at the Queensbury Activity Center, 742 Bay Road. The event, which runs from noon to 2 p.m., includes a free lunch.
Representatives from Apex Solar, based in Queensbury, and Solar Liberty, based in Buffalo, will be at the meeting. They will be selling and installing the solar-energy systems during the campaign.
The companies were chosen through a competitive proposal process earlier this year.
NYSERDA is supporting the campaign in hopes of getting a critical mass of area homes onto solar energy. That large group allows solar companies to offer lower prices. Funds for NYSERDA’s solar credit come from NY-SUN, a state initiative to invest up to $1 billion in solar power through 2023. The goal is to make solar companies self-sustaining.
Businesses can also purchase solar and get the credit through the Solarize campaign. However, residents and business owners must purchase systems that are installed on their property. Not every parcel is right for solar. The campaign does not advocate removing trees to create enough space or sun for solar.
“If you live in a wooded area, you wait for community solar,” Bozony said.
The campaign is not creating community solar, in which a large solar-energy system is built in one location and property owners elsewhere buy portions of it to use for their buildings.
“If this campaign is really successful, we’ll move into that next,” Bozony said. “We’ve had a lot of questions about that. That is the next step.”
Unless trees block the sun, there’s enough sunlight in this area to power local systems, she added.
“We have a medium amount of solar. It’s completely plenty,” she said. “Germany had hardly any sunlight, and yet they have the most solar in the world. We have plenty.”