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Subscriber in the Sunlight: Simon Strauss of Olive, NY

Town's conservation advisory council member appreciates the value of community solar
As a member of the Town of Olive’s Conservation Advisory Council, Simon Strauss understands the impact of traditional energy production and the benefits renewable energy can bring to both the environment and local communities. Simon is a charismatic supporter of renewable energy and has worked tirelessly throughout his career to advance the deployment of clean energy solutions. As if that wasn’t enough, he is one of the most active subscribers on our New Windsor Community Solar project.
 
Simon knew rooftop solar wasn’t an option for one of his properties in the Hudson Valley. He was looking for anything that could reduce his reliance on the utility grid’s “brown power.” That is when he came across community solar. Simon recalls that it didn’t “...make sense to put solar on [this] roof... so any participation that we could do in making the use of electricity greener, number one, and number two in creating savings was going to be a good thing for us.” And community solar has certainly been good for Simon.
 
As a subscriber to community solar, Simon has seen significant savings. At the same time, the project he is a part of has an estimated environmental impact of planting over 7,000 trees annually.
 
But even for someone well versed in renewable energy options, Simon explains how community solar was even difficult for him to get his mind around originally.
 
"I think there were a lot of 'community' words thrown around without it really being clear, certainly to me even in my professional capacity, what was going on. And it took a lot of unpacking...to understand the different programs that have the word 'community' applied to them," Simon said. 
 
Simply put, community solar supports the development of a large solar array, sometimes called a solar farm. The clean energy produced by this project is injected directly into the utility grid so that everyone’s energy is greener. People sign up to purchase community solar credits that represent the energy produced by the solar array. By signing up they support the development of clean energy assets without having to put solar panels on their roof.
 
Once Simon picked apart this information, he learned quickly that community solar is really quite simple and a no-brainer. When talking to people who are interested in community solar, Simon now makes sure to tell them about “...the relative simplicity of signing up, the fact that you're going to get a discount to your electric bill, and that it's not complicated.” Not only does signing up for community solar save you money and is simple, but there are additional benefits as well. 
 
Simon explained, "You're doing the right thing. You're participating in bringing distributed generation into your community."
 
He added, "You're avoiding the use of upgrading or building new transmission lines because you're bringing the generation closer to home. You're potentially providing jobs in your community because... you’re going to have people who have to do operations and maintenance, there’s construction jobs, etc. So you're bringing jobs locally."
 
Community solar also helps to further the clean energy revolution. A movement that will require numerous small changes that together significantly reduce our greenhouse gases footprint and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Simon explains that “..community solar for me is one of those steps, and I think we all have to do our part… by taking each of these little steps... because I think it's easier for people to make a series of small steps, than it is to take giant leaps."