NYC's First Commercial Net Metered Solar PV System In Operation

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Solar Energy Systems (SES) and Big Sue, LLC have commissioned the first commercial net metered solar photovoltaic (PV) system in New York City. The 40 kW DC PV system has been installed atop Big Sue’s office building in Brooklyn, New York. The system sends unused power back to the electrical network grid operated by Consolidated Edison of New York (Con Edison).

This solar PV system is operating atop Big Sue's office building in Brooklyn.

This solar PV system is operating atop Big Sue's office building in Brooklyn.

“To our knowledge, this is the largest commercial net-metered PV system located on a network grid in the United States. It sets a precedent for future solar installations in New York City and around the country, where utility interconnectivity issues have plagued the installation of commercial PV systems on network grids,” said SES president and CEO David Buckner.

Headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, SES is an integrator of solar power systems. The company designed and installed this latest project. Big Sue, also based in Brooklyn, is a general contracting and consulting firm specializing in green building design and construction.

The Impetus
In keeping with the State’s mission to diversify New Yorkers’ energy use and promote renewable energy technologies, Governor David A. Paterson signed legislation expanding New York’s net metering laws to non-residential customers in August 2008.

Governor Paterson stated, “Now New York businesses who invest in solar energy are allowed to sell excess generation back to the utility grid, often at times when it’s most needed. The solar energy system at Big Sue will relieve stress on New York City’s overburdened electrical infrastructure by delivering locally generated, clean solar energy. The companies involved in this milestone project are building New York State’s green collar workforce in support of our renewable energy industries.”

In acknowledging the significance of this project Con Edison’s vice president of engineering and planning, John Mucci, noted that “Con Edison encourages customers like Big Sue and SES to find innovative ways to be energy efficient and provide clean renewable energy while interconnected with our grids.”

Big Sue co-owner, Susan Boyle, also gave credit to SES, saying, “They knew the critical criteria and supported us on our mission.” Adding, “We wouldn’t have worked with anyone else. Because of SES’s track record they were the only choice.” According to Boyle, the company researched a range of energy options for its commercial property- including geothermal and peak shaving battery back-up devices, but chose solar because of the simplicity afforded by net-metering.

Commercial properties with large roof areas are prime locations for solar electric systems. The customized array sitting atop Big Sue’s building (located at 925 Bergen Street in Brooklyn) converts sunlight into electricity and is equipped with a net meter that connects directly to Con Edison’s grid. This direct connectivity enables Big Sue to “sell back” its unused energy to the utility, with Big Sue receiving billing credit for all excess power produced by the solar panels and redelivered to the Con Edison network.

Michael Coddington, a senior engineer with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), who toured the site of SES’s installation, was impressed by the net meter, grid connectivity and sophisticated energy plan (which includes radiant floor heating). “Pretty unique,” said Coddington, “and after review an excellent example. Also, as one of the first commercial buildings that can send power back to the grid Big Sue’s PV system is a groundbreaker in more ways than one. They took an old dilapidated building, made the investment in solar technology, and brought it back to life. It’s really cool,” he concluded.

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3 Responses

  1. Jeffrey Albert says:

    When I visit NYC can I get a tour of the building and see the solar installation. That is impressive. Great job.

  2. AnneTFM says:

    The Big Sue Web site states that the company has held several tours of its buildings for individuals, professionals, and students. If you contact them prior to arriving in NYC, perhaps they’ll oblige a tour request of 925 Bergen Street.

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