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Power from the people: Service allows solar-producing Bklynites to sell energy to neighbors - Brooklyn Paper

Power from the people: Service allows solar-producing Bklynites to sell energy to neighbors

Farm to meter: Rolling Press president Eugene Lee jumped at the chance to purchase clean energy locally through L03 Energy’s microgrid, which connects consumers with solar producers in Park Slope and Gowanus.
Photo by Jason Speakman

Talk about community empowerment!

A Brooklyn tech startup is helping solar-equipped Park Slope and Gowanus residents sell excess energy directly to their neighbors, enticing them to shop green — and small, according to customers.

“If we can buy our energy locally, then why not,” said Eugene Lee of Park Slope printer Rolling Press, which uses 100 percent renewable energy.

Kings County’s L03 Energy connects Lee and other clients to entrepreneurial locals through its “microgrid,” a marketplace that allows the clean energy seekers to purchase their neighbors’ solar power.

The service is perfect for those who are interested in going clean, but don’t have the green to install their own solar panels, according to an employee.

“We’re seeing a lot interest from people who would be getting solar if they could, but they don’t have the credit, aren’t interested in getting a loan, or maybe don’t have the roof space for solar panels,” said Ashley Taylor of L03.

Around 200 people have signed up for the service, about 50 of whom are equipped with the necessary technology to power their neighbors’ appliances, which they can begin doing as soon as the company finishes registering as an energy service provider with the state.

There is no timeline for finishing that process, however, and the company can not compare the price of its local solar energy with rates for power from Con Edison and other statewide clean providers until it is complete.

The savings likely will be negligible, according to Taylor, who said the microgrid’s real benefits are the opportunity for consumers to purchase green energy locally and the ability for providers to sell their extra juice to customers other than Con Edison, which was long the only buyer in the area.

“It’s more about empowerment in terms of having more choice over who gets to purchase your energy,” she said.

And while it may not be cutting your power bills in half, purchasing local energy is better for the environment — and for the city, because it helps preserve infrastructure for future generations, Taylor said.

“Producing the energy where it’s consumed is better for the grid in the long-term,” said Taylor. “It’s a way for people who care about the future to make that known.”

Lee, whose print shop pays about 10 percent more than usual to get power from a wind farm upstate, said the opportunity to shop local was enough to switch to the microgrid.

“Part of sustainability is staying local,” he said. “It would be great if I could get 100 percent of my energy from the microgrid.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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