With panoramic views of the Catskill Mountains that surround the property, the Onteora Mountain House is the ideal destination for your perfect wedding or weekend get-away. It also happens to serve as a prime example of how inns and bed & breakfasts can capture the benefits of local, clean energy through community solar. The inn’s proprietor, Robert McBroom, spent years looking into numerous clean energy options for the Onteora Mountain House, but nothing seemed to work.
"I thought solar panels would be a plus for our image and also for our budget. But the whole place is not suited… I had brought out several contractors... and everyone agreed that our roofline was so busy. There was no way to put them on the roof,” Robert recalled.
After realizing solar panels just weren’t an option for the property, Robert looked into other ways he could support clean energy. That is when he came across community solar.
Robert explained, "I had vaguely heard of the concept. But as I read [a pamphlet] it became more and more appealing."
Since participating in community solar didn’t require Robert to install any solar panels or disrupt his inn’s operations, the value proposition of getting a guaranteed 10% savings on community solar credits was ideal for his business. In addition, inns and bed & breakfasts typically have multiple utility meters at the property. Community solar allows businesses, like the Onteora Mountain House to subscribe each of their meters to the same community solar project, allowing savings to be applied to each of them.
Each month, the Onteora Mountain House receives community solar credits that are applied to its Central Hudson utility bill, lowering it by the amount of solar energy produced by its portion of the community solar project that month. This means that the realized savings can be $100, $250, $75, etc. depending on the amount of clean energy that the project injected into the utility grid that month. Robert then pays for this value at a 10% discount, both realizing financial benefits and directly supporting the growth of renewable energy in the Hudson Valley.
Community solar also suited the ambiance of the Onteora Mountain House. By not having physical solar panels on the property, guests can enjoy the rustic charm and natural beauty of the landscape without anything obstructing their view. “I admire its invisibility. I can tout it if I want to tout it, but it appears here that nothing's changed for 100 years really,” Robert said.
Robert has worked tirelessly to maintain the innate charm and integrity of the inn which isn’t an easy feat. Managing a property like the Onteora Mountain House is a true juggling act, but one that Robert enjoys managing. The fact that adding community solar to the Onteora Mountain House was so simple, was a plus for him.
"I'm kind of struck by the invisibility of it... The savings show up and life goes on. The bill gets paid. I don't have any figuring to do," Robert explained.
With the help of community solar, Robert has been able to support the development of clean energy while also running the Onteora Mountain House as he always pictured it. “I think we've struck a good balance...,” he said.