Anika Wistar-Jones, Solar One program manager (in blue coat), discusses a rooftop installation of solar panels with residents of an affordable
co-op at 239 E. Second St.
Go Solar helps buildings plug into sun for power
BY SYDNEY PEREIRA
Eight years ago, Dennis Pfandler
was looking into retrofi tting the
roof of his E. Second St. co-op
with solar panels.
But back then, Pfandler said, solar
panels were mostly a luxury for owners
of single-family homes in the suburbs.
“Nobody wanted to come into Manhattan
and give me an estimate because
they didn’t want to have to deal with the
city,” the longtime East Villager said.
At the time, the Department of
Buildings and the Fire Department had
not quite caught up to some residents’
desire to make their buildings more effi
cient, Pfandler said.
But this October, Pfandler’s building
at E. Second St. and Avenue C fi nally
was fi nally able to plug into sun power
through the Co-ops Go Solar campaign.
The effort is a partnership between two
nonprofi ts, the Urban Homesteading
Assistance Board and Solar One, to
provide housing development fund corporation
(H.D.F.C.) cooperatives with
technical assistance to retrofi t buildings
with solar panels.
Solar One — which helps with the
technical assistance — streamlined
the whole process, said Pfandler, who
works as a superintendent in the building.
Solar One helped residents choose
an installation company and, he said,
“The next thing you know, we’re getting
the roof coating done.”
Brooklyn SolarWorks, a Brooklynbased
solar installation company, installed
18 panels at Pfandler’s sevenunit
building. Within four to fi ve years,
the money saved from going solar will
make up for the $27,000 the building
spent on the panels.
Pfandler expects the building to save
$1,749 in the fi rst year. Over the panels’
25-year expected lifetime, the building
will save $55,000.
“We’re going to be saving money
down the road,” Pfandler said, adding
it will be helpful in a building where
many people are aging and will be on
fi xed incomes.
The solar panels at the E. Second
St. co-op power the building’s water
pump, laundry room, hallway lights
Solar panels also could be installed
to power individual apartments. But
that depends on how much roof space
there is, and whether the residents are
aiming to lower individuals’ utility bills
or keep the building’s overall operating
costs lower, UHAB’s Clara Weinstein
The solar panels function by channeling
electricity into the larger “grid”
that everyone citywide and beyond taps
into to power their homes.
Any additional solar electricity the
building produces — especially during
the sunny, summer months — is sold
back to Con Edison as a solar credit for
the building to use during the winter
months, at nighttime or on cloudy days,
when the solar panels don’t produce as
“It’s kind of like using the grid as one
huge battery,” said Anika Wistar-Jones,
Solar One program manager.
Pfandler’s co-op had the funds to purchase
the panels, but for cash-strapped
co-ops, there are other options, according
to Solar One and UHAB.
One is low-interest loans that ensure
loan payments are lower than the
money saved through tax incentives
and solar panels. Another way is with
a “power purchase agreement,” where
a third party owns the panels and sells
electricity back to the co-op at a reduced
“Solar savings should be available to
all New Yorkers,” Wistar-Jones said.
“We’re excited to be bringing affordable
PHOTO BY SYDNEY PEREIRA
solar to affordable housing with
For more information, visit uhab.
Schneps Community News Group CNW November 15, 2018 7