For Brooklyn homeowners with pointy roofs in places like Bay Ridge, Sunrun may be a way to go. The company, which sells its products through Costco and other retailers, is popular with those who prefer to rent equipment to lower their initial outlay.
It costs nothing to install a Sunrun system, although homeowners pay a monthly rental fee of about $80 in New York, on top of a $40 utility bill, for a total of $120, a company spokesman said, noting that a typical utility bill for a Brooklyn house without solar panels is $135.
For those who don’t own their own houses — the majority of New Yorkers — solar power is available through companies that have created community solar networks that can connect off-site panels to scattered households.
Daroga Power, a four-year-old solar developer, activated one such network in December. The network now has 170 residential accounts, most in Brooklyn, said David Matt, a company principal. That network’s panels are arrayed across two industrial buildings in East New York, while customers live throughout the city.
“What sold me was that it’s better for the environment,” said Eric Zion, 34, whose one-bedroom rental on the Upper East Side has been plugged into the Daroga system for a year. “But who wouldn’t want cheaper bills?”
The savings are about 15 percent, Mr. Zion said.
Next, Daroga hopes to create similar localized networks on top of large rentals and co-ops, although finding roofs unencumbered by vents is difficult, Mr. Matt said. And not every co-op board wants large-scale equipment in a space that could someday be used for a terrace or outdoor kitchen.
There opportunities for low-income New Yorkers, too. Here Comes Solar, a division of the nonprofit advocacy group Solar One, is helping design a solar system for the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park that will serve 175 renters, said Noah Ginsburg, the division’s director. Here Comes Solar is also planning projects in the Bronx, a borough that, like Manhattan, has been slow to embrace solar power, with just 1,500 residential installations.