Solar Uptown Now Services (S.U.N.S.) is a solar workers cooperative grounded in principles of equity, cooperation, and climate justice. Our mission is to build power and healthy communities. We install and service solar PV on primarily affordable housing in Northern Manhattan and the greater NYC area.
As a cooperative, S.U.N.S. aims to contribute to just energy transition, providing training, jobs, and ownership stake in renewable energy for local communities of color.
Low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the air pollution and greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels. Energy produced from renewable resources like solar can help reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while providing significant cost savings for these communities, which historically spend a greater portion of their income on energy bills. Although there are few installations in Northern Manhattan right now, there is a lot of potential for the expansion of solar given the prevalence of flat roofs. S.U.N.S. primarily services multi-family affordable housing, where the barriers to solar adoption are greatest and the cost savings are most needed.
How Did We Start?
Solar Uptown Now Services (S.U.N.S) was incubated by WE ACT for Environmental Justice. In 2016, WE ACT in partnership with several other local organizations launched Solar Uptown Now, a campaign to bring solar energy to affordable housing in Northern Manhattan. As of March 2020, the program has installed solar panels on the roofs of 11 HDFC buildings in Northern Manhattan, annually producing 415 kW of renewable energy while avoiding 802 pounds of nitrogen oxide, a leading source air of pollution and a contributor to global warming. By offsetting the electricity needed for the common areas of these buildings, the program saved residents an estimated $61.7 thousand in the first year and an estimated $1.9 million over the 25-year lifetime of the installations.
In 2019, 10 graduates of WE ACT’s Worker Training program, all trained in solar installation and NABCEP certified, came together to form the Solar Uptown Now Services cooperative under the guidance of WE ACT Senior Community Organizer Charles Callaway and with the support of Green Worker Cooperatives’ Co-Op Academy training in the Bronx. Nationally, the solar industry is only 7.6% black and 16.9 % hispanic. S.U.N.S. is the first minority owned solar workers cooperative in the NYC area. S.U.N.S. continues to work with WE ACT as a partner in shared commitment to working towards energy justice.