January 31, 2019

Member Spotlight: Common Energy

The Chamber sat down with Malcolm Bliss, V.P. Partnerships at Common Energy, to discuss how and why the business started and some basics about clean energy.

New York State Senator, Jim Tedisco, presents Citation of Praise and Congratulations to Common Energy. Malcolm Bliss, VP of Partnerships at Common Energy, is shown with Senator Tedisco.

1. Please describe what inspired you to open your own business.

A small group of solar energy veterans started Common Energy with a goal of making lower-cost, clean energy available to every household. We knew limitations on roof suitability prevent the majority of Americans from installing solar panels or other clean energy resources on their property. We’ve solved this problem by working with clean energy project developers and local utilities to deliver lower-cost clean energy to households, without any on-site installation or investment. Now virtually anyone—whether you rent or own—can connect to clean energy and save money.

2. Why did you choose this type of business?

All of us at Common Energy share a commitment to environmental responsibility and a desire to be part of the solution to the problem of carbon in the atmosphere. We know that the world needs to adopt clean energy and we’re excited to be a part of this historic transition.

3. Malcolm, as V.P. of Partnerships at Common Energy, please give us some background information on yourself, include your training and education, your hobbies and work history prior to opening/joining this business.

I’ve been a part of environmental causes my whole life. Then, in 2012, I made clean energy not only a personal pursuit but also the focus of my professional work. After almost three decades consulting to large businesses on business strategy, information technology, and organizational transformation, I made clean energy the centerpiece of my work. Being a part of the clean energy industry reminds me of the early part of my career in information technology, when personal computing and email were largely unheard of. We’ve seen a revolution in information technology and in the years ahead we’re going to cover a lot of new ground in energy also.

4. Tell us why what made you pick your location

No state is perfect, but we are fortunate to live and work in New York State, which is a leader in clean energy policy and environmental protection. Already this year, the state has unveiled new, more aggressive clean energy goals which make New York an example of leadership for the nation. This means that New York is a great place for clean energy businesses that serve needs in the state and also deliver leadership capabilities in other states as their policies and national policies evolve. Within New York State, the Capital Region has an outstanding mix of resources to produce clean energy and residents to consume that energy.

5. Please give us a comprehensive overview of the business and key aspects of the business that you would like people to know.

In the past, clean energy has cost more than conventional electricity. Today, Common Energy provides clean energy that costs less. Common Energy provides households and qualified businesses a contractually-guaranteed discount of 10% relative to electricity from the utility.

If you have authority over a solar-viable roof at your own home, installing solar panels can be complicated due to investments, contracts, permitting, installation, inspections, insurance, and roof maintenance. Rooftop solar can be a good energy solution, but for anyone who has been deterred by the effort or complexity, community solar provides an easy way to go solar. Most people can use the Common Energy website to enroll in just a few minutes.

6. What can customers expect to experience from your business? What sets you apart?

Common Energy serves more community solar subscribers in New York State than any other organization, we have won two contract awards from New York State under the Solar For All Program, and we’re the only community solar provider endorsed by the non-profit, Solarize Albany. We’ve come to this position of leadership because we put people first. We believe that if we do the right thing for people and provide a product that meets their needs, our profits will follow. This set of priorities provides our customers with a high-quality experience – on-line, on the phone, and in person — that leads them to recommend us to others.  Doing right by our customers and providing a high-quality experience has led to our success to date and all of our customers should expect the same going forward.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact Malcolm Bliss, V.P. Partnerships.