How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar Panels and the state of New York
Solar energy systems are booming in the state of New York, growing 300% from 2011 to 2014, at a time when the nation as a whole experienced a 146% increase in solar energy systems. This is due in large part to recognition by the State government and local municipalities that the adoption of solar electric systems will not only help keep electric rates low, saving money for all New Yorkers, but also provide a boost to local economies. As of October 2015, solar energy systems are providing over 492 megawatts of power in New York State, with over 100 megawatts of solar in the queue, adding billions to the New York State economy.
Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strategy aimed at building a next-generation energy system that is clean, resilient, and affordable for all New Yorkers. The impetus for REV? The transitioning electric industry. As new technology emerges, renewable energy options, like solar, are becoming increasingly competitive price-wise with traditional fossil fuel energy sources. Combine a more affordable energy source with New York’s aging infrastructure, extreme weather events, system security and resiliency needs, and it becomes apparent that significant changes have to be made to the way that electricity is generated, distributed, managed, and consumed throughout the state.
Promoting the adoption of more solar technology in New York is truly a win-win for the state. New Yorkers currently pay a hefty price for electricity. New York’s average electricity price is 19 cents/kilowatt–almost 50% more than the national average of 13 cents/kilowatt. In addition to decreasing electric costs for residents and business owners, solar energy systems will also reduce the carbon footprint of the state, all while creating jobs and increasing economic development. New York State currently ranks 4th in the country for solar jobs. As of November 2014, New York has 538 solar companies that employ 7,284 solar workers, at higher than average solar wages, representing a 39.8% increase in employment over the previous year.
Notable Solar Energy Projects Throughout the State
- The Long Island Solar Farm was completed in 2011 and has the capacity to generate 32 MW of electricity–enough to power approximately 4,500 New York homes.
- Several large retailers in New York have gone solar, including Walmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Target. Anheuser-Busch has installed one of the largest corporate photovoltaic systems in the state with 797 kilowatts of solar capacity at their location in Bronx.
- The Eastern Long Island Project is the largest combined carport installation in the state of New York with over 21 acres of solar panels installed across six different sites. The combined 12.8 MW photovoltaic system feeds power directly to local electric utility, The Long Island Power Authority.
- K-SOLAR is a partnership with the New York Power Authority and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority in coordination with the State Education Department. K-Solar provides school districts–at no cost and no obligation–with the tools and expertise necessary to bring solar energy to their facilities and reduce their energy costs.
Government Support for Solar Energy Systems
The NY-Sun Initiative is part of Governor Cuomo’s commitment to protect the environment and lower energy costs for all New Yorkers by improving the efficiency and reliability of the electric grid. In the first two years of NY-Sun, a total of 316 megawatts of solar electric had been installed or was under contract, which is more than was installed in the entire prior decade. In April 2014, following those two successful years, Governor Cuomo made an historic commitment of nearly $1 billion to NY-Sun.
What are Financing Options for Solar Systems in New York?
New York’s solar offerings are unified under one initiative called NY-Sun. NY-Sun provides financial support for solar electric systems installed by a NY-Sun certified contractor. Residents, businesses, and not-for-profits have three options for acquiring a solar electric system: buying, leasing, or entering into a power purchase agreement (also known as solar leasing). Through a process known as net metering, your utility will accept your excess solar power when you are producing more than you are using, and will supply you with reliable grid power when the sun is not shining. Your utility company will base your bill on the difference between your solar production and electric use.
Available Incentives and Rebates in New York
Residents of New York are eligible for a mix of federal, state, and in some places, city incentives to support investments in installing solar energy. Accredited solar installers are familiar with available incentives and can help guide you through the process. In addition, many innovative financing solutions have emerged as well such as third-party ownership programs, often known as Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s), Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), and group purchasing programs such as Solarize campaigns.
- Federal Tax Credit: Residential building owners are eligible to receive a federal tax credit worth 30% of the cost of the solar installation, after subtracting the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) incentive (explained below). Assuming the NYSERDA incentive is taxable income, the total installed cost of the system is the basis for calculating the federal tax credit.
- NY-Sun Incentive: The NY-Sun Initiative provides incentives for installing solar electric systems distributed through 3 regions: Con Edison, PSEG Long Island, and The Balance of the State. Under the Megawatt Block Incentive Structure, each region and sector (commercial vs residential) is assigned a series of megawatt targets at certain incentive levels, referred to as “blocks.” As applications are submitted, incentives are assigned and the kilowatts associated with the applications are added together and the units are converted to megawatts. When the megawatt target for that block is reached, the block is closed and a new block, with a new target and a lower incentive level, is started. Once all of the blocks for a particular region and sector are filled, an incentive for that region and sector will no longer be offered. In general, incentives for a typical residential or commercial system cover approximately 20-30% of the installed cost of a PV system. Note the NYSERDA incentive is paid directly to the installing contractor.
- New York State Tax Credit: Residential building owners who install solar may be eligible for a tax credit for the lesser of 25% of the installed cost of the solar energy system (up to 25 kilowatts on net-metered systems) after the NYSERDA incentive, or $5,000. It’s important to note that the federal government considers this state tax credit taxable income.
- Sales Tax Exemption: New York enacted legislation in July 2005 exempting the sale and installation of residential solar-energy systems from the state’s sales and compensating use taxes. The exemption applies to solar-energy systems that utilize solar radiation to produce energy designed to provide heating, cooling, hot water and/or electricity. The exemption does not apply to solar pool heating or other recreational applications.
- New York City Property Tax Abatement (PTA): Available in New York City only, building owners who place a grid-connected solar energy system into service from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2016 are eligible for a four-year Tax Abatement of 5% per year of the installed cost of the system, for a total of up to 20%. Abatements are applied after the NY-Sun Incentive, capped at $62,500 per year or $250,000 total. This tax abatement is spread equally over four years, and may not exceed your property tax liability for any given year. If you wish to apply for this incentive, you or your solar installer will need to hire a New York State registered architect or professional engineer to file the paperwork with the Department of Buildings.
What about New Yorkers Who Rent or Don’t Live in Single Family Homes?
The Shared Renewables Initiative provides opportunities for renters, homeowners, low-income residents, schools, and businesses to join together to set up shared renewable energy projects resulting in healthier and stronger communities and solar for all. Under the Shared Renewables Initiative, customers with and without feasible roof structures can join together to share in the benefits of local solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects. Each individual member’s production would appear as a credit on their monthly utility bill. The first phase of Shared Renewables will focus on promoting low-income customer participation and installations in areas of the power grid that can benefit most from local power production.