Fruit Belt Residents Collaborate With National Grid's Solar Demonstration Project

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - 170 ​participants​ have signed up to test the grid efficiency of a solar power array in the Fruit Belt, Buffalo (NY). Besides supporting clean energy, they will benefit from significant bill savings.

The project in question is National Grid's ​Fruit Belt Neighborhood Solar Demonstration Project,​ and it amounts to a total of 500-kilowatt generating capacity.

The $3.7 million solar energy demonstration project was given the greenlight in 2015 by New York Public Service Commission as part of a regional drive to modernize the grid and invest in infrastructure. National Grid says one of the novelties of the project is that it is the first time residents in such a large, economically-diverse neighborhood have shared power resources. The company wants to find out how replicable the model is.

Participants, who will be housing the equivalent of 100 5-kilowatt solar systems, are rewarded with monthly credits on electric bills (around $15 per month), based on how much power the panels in the neighborhood generate. This enables them to go solar without upfront as well as maintenance costs, since National Grid will service and maintain the systems for 25 years.

“This is an entirely new concept for us, and we greatly appreciate the support we’ve received from the Fruit Belt neighborhood and our project partners,” said National Grid New York vice president Melanie Littlejohn. “New York State is a leader in energy innovation, and this project puts Buffalo and the Fruit Belt on the leading edge. We very much look forward to the research that will come from this demonstration that will help our industry continue to evolve for the benefit of customers and our environment.​"​

All solar panels in this project are provided and installed by Solar Liberty based in Buffalo. 44 systems have been installed, including 15 connected to the grid, and full contingent is expected to be completed by November.

Image credit: National Grid