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Clear info on home solar power rebates, tax credits, and other benefits

2017 Policy Grade

A

Avg. Yearly Savings

$330

Congratulations! You've found the ultimate guide to going solar in New York

2017 Policy Grade

A

Avg. Savings/year

$330

At Solar Power Rocks, our dream is to turn your thoughts of solar power for your home into reality

Note: The numbers above are just estimates for a 5kW solar system, and your home is unique. The best way to know exactly how much money solar power can save you is to connect with one of our partners nearby. A friendly solar expert we trust will give you a buzz and help you craft a personal plan to get the absolute most out of a solar power system for your home. It's 100% free (yes, that’s right, 100% free) and you aren't obligated to buy anything.

New York is in the top 5 states our rankings for home solar power. That's because of the state's excellent legislative support for good solar practices, and also because of its great rebate program and solar tax credit, which make solar here a sure bet. Now, there have been some changes to the New York Solar incentives in the recent past, and we've got the skinny on all of them, below.

Because New York is SO good for home solar, we spent some extra time researching the investment possibilities in a few specific areas:

Read on to get the overall picture of solar policy and incentives for the Empire state!

Questions? Our network of solar experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page. You can get discounted on-grid pricing as low as $4,000/kW! This is paired with the New York solar incentives you see below.

Your guide to going solar in New York

We've designed this page to be a complete guide to the complicated and sometimes confusing process of installing solar panels on a home in New York. Since there's a lot of important information to consider, we've separated the page into sections to help you find what you are looking for. If you find this page useful, please share it with someone who might also find it interesting!

The Solar Strategy section is all about the various financial options you have in New York. We've created a tool that asks you a few questions about what you hope to get out of a solar purchase and recommends whether you should pursue a solar lease, loan, or outright purchase. Then, we give you a detailed picture of how each could work for you.

The Policy Information section contains all of our latest research on the rules set by the state legislature and public utilities commission that determines how easy it is to go solar in New York. These policies and rules govern everything from renewable energy mandates to whether you get paid retail or wholesale rates for the extra energy your system produces, and can have a huge effect on the viability of solar.

Finally, the Solar Incentives section lists all of the available financial benefits available to homeowners who go solar. This section includes information about money-back rebates and grants, tax credits, and tax exemptions. If you're looking for what New York is doing to make solar more affordable for its citizens, you'll find it here.

We hope you find our work useful. If so, please help us keep our research and advocacy as strong as possible by sharing it with someone who might also find it interesting, contributing any amount you can, and by getting yourself personalized savings estimates from our trusted partner network.

Click any of the boxes below to go to that section of the page, or scroll down to read the page in order.

Your Solar Strategy in New York

Figuring out the best way to go solar in New York can be a little daunting. From loans and leases to power-purchase agreements, there are a lot of options out there. To help you pick the one that might be best, we've created the handy decision tool below.

We'll ask you a few simple questions about you and your home. Once you're done, we'll recommend a good option. Further down this page, we provide cost estimates and example return-on-investment calculations for all the various options:

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Compare the Return of Different Solar Investments in New York

The chart above shows the 25-year returns for an investment in solar whether you choose to purchase a system with cash or pay over time with a loan or Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA). One thing it's important to note is: solar makes you a lot of money in New York. Yes, we said "makes!" You see, New York's electricity prices are so high, going solar starts paying off right away. And with great rebates and tax credits, solar has never been cheaper.

Now let's discuss that chart above. As you can see, the cash purchase option leads to the highest dollar-amount returns over time, but look a little closer. Taking a solar loan or Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit (HELOC—the orange bars) and paying for the system over time means you'll actually spend zero dollars of your own money over time, while reaping a big financial benefit in year 1.

That's because you take a loan for ou'll be paying ove time for the system, but you still get all the benefits of paying up front. In New York, that means a 30% federal tax credit, 25% state tax credit, and big annual energy savings. With those huge tax credits, you'll actually come out way ahead after the first year. And even though you'll be making loan payments for 15 years, the net cost will be so low that you'll never actually spend that first year's windfall.

Finally, take a look at the blue bars. They represent a solar Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA), which is also called third-party ownership. With a lease or PPA, the solar installation company puts panels on your roof at no cost to you, and you buy the electricity they produce for cheaper than you would have paid the utility company. Your savings start small but finish big, because the cost of the PPA energy will rise by less than the electric company's annual rate hikes. Third-party ownership is an excellent option if you don't have any equity or cash to put down, and it still saves you money!

Read more below about each of three very good options for solar in New York.

Net Present Value of Solar in New York

“Net Present What?!” Don’t panic, this isn’t an economics test. NPV is just a tool used to compare investments. Basically, it asks, “if you had X dollars to invest, which investment would get you the best return?” It relies on the idea that getting a return on your investment sooner is better than later, because you can reinvest your early profits and keep the gain train going.

We compare an investment in solar to a “what-if” investment in a Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 stock index fund, which has seen growth of about 7% per year over the past 25 years. We use the cost of solar in New York and ask “how much better or worse (in 2017 dollars) is an investment in solar than stocks?” Here's what we found for the three different ways of going solar in New York:

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blue  Solar Power-Purchase Agreements in New York

A PPA is a great way to go solar if you haven't got stacks of cash or oodles of equity in your home. It's possible to get solar panels for $0 down and see big savings over 20 years!

As for PPAs in New York: the electricity costs here are pretty high—over 33% higher than the national average. That means you save money starting on day 1! For now, the payments on for electricity on a PPA with a 5-kW solar system should be around $665 per year, but that much electricity would have cost you $995 per year. That's $330 you get to keep in your pocket this year, just for saying yes to solar!

That might not sound like a huge amount of money right now, but as the utility company raises rates, you will start to see greater annual savings. Over 20 years, our estimate shows a total savings of $9,473. And the best part is the panels will be owned and maintained by the installation company, so all you have to do is brag to the Joneses down the street about your green habits!

Net Present Value: $5,071

Net Present Value (NPV) measures how good of an investment something is, compared to the best alternative. We use a 6% return to evaluate all solar investments, and New York's $5,071 NPV on a solar PPA means you'd be that much better off investing your money in solar over 25 years than in, say, stocks. That number is pretty huge for a $0-down investment, so you can rest easy with a PPA knowing you're doing right for your pocketbook at the same time as you're doing right by the planet!

Here's a little more about how a New York solar PPA works:

Example savings in New York

Annual Electric Bill Before Solar

$1,206

Annual Electric Bill After Solar

$211

Est. Annual Solar Payments

$665

Average Annual Savings

$330

Power-Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are the most popular form of what's called "third-party solar." A PPA just means your solar company owns the panels on your roof, and you pay for the electricity they produce. The numbers above show the savings with a solar PPA for an average home in New York. The typical electric bill before solar power is super expensive, but with a PPA, your monthly expenses will be lower. You'll be saving money and saving the planet all at the same time!

Here's an estimate of the monthly savings for a solar PPA in New York:

Monthly solar PPA savings in New York

With a PPA, your solar company essentially becomes a second utility provider, only the solar electricity is sold to you at a lower rate than the fossil fuel electricity you've been buying from the electric company! Note: your PPA won't eliminate your power bill from your regular electric provider, because you'll still need energy from the grid when the sun isn't shining. But it will save you money!

The less-popular cousin of the third-party solar family is the solar lease. It's basically like renting your panels for a set monthly payment, and getting all the energy they produce—however much it is. Don't get spooked by that language, though. A typical solar lease comes with energy production guarantees that will make sure you're getting what you paid for. In fact, if you're not offered a production guarantee with a solar lease, walk away.

Here's the best part of third-party solar: whether you end up with a lease or a PPA, the installation company owns the panels and will do all the maintenance for you. Usually that means just a good cleaning every year, but if any part of that system fails, you're off the hook! That can be a great benefit to homeowners who are risk averse.

Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in New York. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar lease or PPA, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

Home Solar Power: PPA vs. Purchasing

To PPA, or not to PPA? Willsolar Shakespanels would be proud we're discussing this. Here's the basic deal. If you choose to lease your panels, you benefit from no out of pocket costs and an immediately reduced total electricity payment. Because of this, many regard this option as a no-brainer, since there isn't any downside to think of. The only hiccup you'll start to experience is when you consider the long term financial benefit of owning the solar panel system yourself.

In many situations, if you can afford the outlay or can easily secure financing, the cost of the install becomes an investment with a return outpacing even the strongest performing mutual funds. In addition, there's significantly less principal risk, since the energy credits you will be producing are tied to the sun coming up in the morning instead of our financial markets!

Additionally, if you go the PPA route, you must forfeit all the credits and performance payments you would receive by owning the system yourself to the solar PPA company (after all, that's how they can afford to give you such a no-brainer proposition in the first place).

orange square  Solar Loans in New York

You don't need $18,000 sitting around to pay for solar. As long as you have equity in your home, you can still own solar panels and reap all the benefits. Heck, even if you do have the cash, getting a loan to pay for solar is by far the best option when it comes to percentage return on investment.

That’s because, in New York, using a loan to pay for solar is like investing in a business that's sure to succeed, and also earns you a tax break. Wait... TWO tax breaks! You'll come out thousands ahead this year, and you'll still see a spectacular profit over the 25-year life of your system. The reason this works so well is that you're paying over time, but reaping all the benefits now. Your yearly energy savings will nearly offset the loan payments, which might sound like it's too good to be true... so let's take a look at the numbers.

A solar purchase like this will make sense for you if the following is true about you and your current situation:

  • You can qualify for a solar loan or home-equity line of credit (HELOC) for $15,500, with a fixed rate of 4% or lower and a 15-year repayment period. Don't be put off if you're offered a higher rate. It just means a tiny bit less of the thousands of dollars you'll make with solar.
  • You love making money without much risk.

Net Present Value: $9,442

Net Present Value (NPV) measures how good of an investment something is, compared to the best alternative. We use a 6% return to evaluate all solar investments, and New York's $9,442 NPV on a solar loan means you'd be that much better off investing your money in solar over 25 years than in, say, stocks. That's a huge number, and it shows how getting a loan for solar is so much better than the alternatives. You can rest easy with a solar loan knowing you're doing right for your bank account at the same time as you're doing right by the planet!

Here’s how the numbers pencil out for a New York homeowner who makes a solar purchase with a loan:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $15,500 after New York's rebate. That's how big your loan will need to be to cover it.
  • The electricity you'll save in the first year of operation would have cost $995, but your annual loan payments will be $1,376, meaning you would spend $381 on solar this year, but...
  • You'll get TWO huge tax breaks! Uncle Sam will give you 30% of the post-rebate cost of your system back as an income tax credit, which in this case means $4,650 you won't be paying the Feds this year, and New York offers another 25% off your state tax bill, up to $5,000. Our example here would earn you a cool $3,875 off the amount on your IT-201.
  • All those incentives mean you'll come out $8,144 ahead after year 1, and it's clear skies from then on out. You'll end up with a net payment of $367 in year 2, but that will get smaller for every year after, as New York raises utility rates, but your loan payments stay they same.
  • By the time you've paid off your loan in 2031, you'll see yearly savings of over $1,250. After 25 years, your total profit will be $18,241!
  • On top of the green that will stay in your pocket, your system will mean green for the environment, too—97 trees-worth, every year!
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in New York. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar loan, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

green square  Buying Solar in New York

An outright purchase used to be the only way to get solar, and it's still the option that provides the "biggest" financial returns. The reason we put "biggest" in quotes here is because it's technically true—with rebates and tax credits, solar costs less than ever before, and the electricity savings in New York are so good that a solar installation pays itself off in just a few short years. But if you're interested in solar as an investment, taking a loan to pay for the system is a better option.

With a loan, you can make monthly payments instead of putting $15,500 down on a solar system, which means you save money on electricity as you pay down the cost of your panels. If you have equity in your home or can get a large loan with an interest rate of 4% or less, a loan is the option to go with. It's like being able to start a business that is sure to succeed, just by having a roof. Read about loans below.

If you've got cash and you prefer to pay up front, you'll have to plunk down $15,500, but tax breaks and energy savings will erase a bunch of that after just 1 year. Over 25 years, your system will have produced over $23,000 in income, after your system cost is paid back. The reason this works is that solar offsets your electricity costs—enough to save you $995 in year 1—and it just goes up from there. As the electric company raises rates, you save more and more, and more...

Net Present Value: $8,182

Net Present Value (NPV) measures how good of an investment something is, compared to the best alternative. We use a 6% return to evaluate all solar investments, and New York's $8,182 NPV on a 5-kW solar system means you'd be that much better off investing your money in solar over 25 years than in, say, stocks. With investment return like that, you'll be padding your wallet while you save the planet. Good job! But check out what happens to NPV if you buy the same system with a loan that you can pay back over time.

Here’s how the numbers work for a 5-kW rooftop solar system in New York:

  • Installing a typical 5-kW solar system should start at about $15,500 after New York's excellent solar rebates. That's cheaper than solar has ever been, but it still might seem like a big investment. Don’t worry, because after tax breaks and energy savings, your first-year costs will be considerably less than that.
  • The Federal government offers a great income tax credit of 30% of system costs. That's $4,650 you won't be paying to Uncle Sam this year, and it brings your first-year investment down to $10,850.
  • Then, the Empire State helps you out with its own excellent tax credit. That's another 25% of the system cost, or $3,875, that you'll get to keep at tax time.
  • After those tax credits, we subtract your first year’s energy savings, which we estimate to be $995. That reduces your cost after the first year to only $5,980—a savings of 61% of the post-rebate cost of your system. That's the best first-year cost in the nation.
  • Those electricity savings will quickly make your money back, and your system will pay for itself in just 7 years. You'll see a total net profit of $23,379 by the end of your panels' 25-year warranty. The internal rate of return for this investment is an amazing 18%. That's more than twice the return of an investment in index funds, and it's more reliable, too!
  • And here's a nice bonus to consider: your home's value just increased by $23,000, too (your expected electricity savings over 20 years).
  • In addition to all that cash (and home value), you’ve created some green for the earth as well by not using electricity from fossil fuels. It's like planting 97 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.
Keep in mind, the numbers above are based on an average home in New York. If you're ready for a custom quote for a solar panel system, our network of experts are on call to assist you. Simply sign up for personalized assistance on our special solar deals page.

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New York Solar Policy Information

Ever wonder why solar seems to be everywhere in some states, but not in others? We did too.

State legislatures and public utilities commissions can enact rules to make solar power accessible for everyone. Favorable rules explain why some of the cloudiest states—New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, are doing so well with solar, and yet some of those with the most natural solar resources—like Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida—are doing so poorly.

Below is important information about the public policy, rules, and economic reasons that affect your ability to go solar here in New York:

RPS

50% by 2030

Grade: A

New York's Renewable Portfolio Standard grade

A Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires utilities in the state to eventually source at least a certain percentage of their electricity from clean, renewable sources like solar panels.

New York has set an ambitious renewable portfolio standard that's among the best in the nation. After expanding their goal in 2015, the New York Public Service Commission established a requirement to derive at least 50% of it’s electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030. Not only is this a hefty percentage, but they’ve set an aggressive deadline, making New York’s RPS worthy of applause!

New York’s RPS is critical to strong renewable energy policy. Utility companies aren't really all that gung-ho about you producing your own power. After all, it costs them money when you use less of their electricity. They also don’t naturally want to give you big payments for energy you're feeding back into the grid. The main reason the utilities are aiding your transition to lower electric bills and offering you incentives to put solar on your roof is because the state forces them to. If the utilities don't hit their RPS numbers, they have to pay large fees back to the state.

What's an RPS? Your state legislature paves the way for strong solar energy incentives to flourish by setting standards for renewable energy generation within their territories. Those standards are called the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). If utility companies do not meet these standards, they must pay alternative compliance fees directly to the state. Many utilities then determine the best ways to source their energy from renewable sources that are less expensive than this fee.

An RPS is a mandate that says "Hey utilities! Y'all now have to make a certain percentage of your electricity from renewable sources. If not, you'll have to pay us huge fines." The consequences are good, because utilities usually try to meet these RPS standards by creating solar power incentives for you, the homeowner. Read more about Renewable Portfolio Standards.

RPS solar carve out

None

Grade: F

New York's Solar Carve-out grade

Sadly, along with the new RPS came the end of a wonderful solar carve-out. There is no longer a requirement that any of the RPS energy come from solar specifically. Instead, there's a requirement that a certain percentage come from "new" sources. That dinged New York's reputation a little, but there is still so much to be happy about here, from laws to incentives, that we really can't complain (too much).

What's a solar set aside? A solar set aside guarantees a specific portion of the overall renewable energy mix generated comes from the sun. For those states with progressive standards, high alternative compliance payments, and clear solar carve outs, the faster those areas become ripe for solar.

Some states have higher alternative compliance fees than others, and some states have more progressive alternative energy standards and deadlines than others do.

For instance, New Jersey has an overall RPS of 22.5% by the year 2021. That requires local utilities to source 22.5% of their energy mix from renewable sources by the year 2021. Pretty good. However, New Jersey also has a specific solar set aside of 4.1% by 2028. That’s the type of firm commitment which really gets the industry rolling forward. No wonder why New Jersey is one of the hottest solar markets right now!

New York Electricity Prices

$0.17/kWh

Grade: A

New York's Electricity cost grade

New Yorkers pay quite a bit more than the national average for electricity, and those rates are rising. New York’s average electricity price is 17 cents/kWh -- almost 50% more than the national average of 13 cents/kWh. That means while you currently see larger bills, with solar, you'll be seeing bigger savings!

Higher electricity prices means greater opportunity to save money by producing your own clean, earth-friendly solar power. Not to mention the fact that the rising environmental costs and dwindling supply of fossil fuels is going to lead to even faster increases in energy prices, likely sooner rather than later. When energy prices start going up and up (and up), you’re going to be saving more and more (and more) money for making the switch to solar now. Just remember to thank us later.

Why are electricity prices so important? Because that is what solar power is directly competing against. The cost to produce power with solar is relatively constant (of course how much sun hits your area has an effect), so if you are paying $0.40 per watt for power, then you make FOUR TIMES AS MUCH as the guy or girl paying $0.10 per watt electricity.

The caveat here is that if the $0.10 per watt person has a HUGE rebate, they may be better off than the $0.40 per watt person. Because of that, states without any renewable standards tend to be heavily reliant on cheap coal for electricity, and also have very low electricity prices. When electricity prices are artificially low, that hinders the ability of solar energy to achieve meaningful payback in the state.

New York Net Metering

A

Grade: A

New York's Net Metering grade

Net Metering requires your utility to monitor how much energy your solar power system produces and how much energy you actually consume to make sure you get credit for the surplus.

In New York, utility companies are required to provide net metering services for residential systems up to 25kW. Any net excess electricity generation is generally credited to your next bill at retail rate. However, for residential solar in New York, excess generation is reconciled annually at the avoided-cost rate. A recent update to the policy requires utility companies to give you the opportunity (when you first install and connect your system) to choose when this pay period ends to avoid cashing out at a disadvantageous time. Pretty sweet, huh?

What is net metering? Net metering is the billing arrangement where you can sell excess electricity back to your utility for equal the amount you are charged to consume it. The more customer friendly net metering policies, the higher the grade.

The grade here specifically reflects individual solar system capacity, caps on program capacity limits, restrictions on “rollover” of kWh from one month to the next (yep just like cell phone minutes), metering issues (like charges for new meters), Renewable Energy Credit (REC) ownership, eligible customers and technology (the more renewables the better), being able to aggregate meters across the property for net metering, and safe harbor provisions to protect customers from solar tariff changes.

New York Interconnection Rules

B

New York's Interconnection Standards grade

New York has been doing well to promote solar with a fair approach to net-metering and making connections to the grid go smoothly without a bunch of bureaucratic headaches. Their interconnection standards address customer responsibility for equipment costs, but these treatments vary by customer type and system size. Speak to your local installer for interconnection information specific to your new solar project.

Interconnection rules are a little technical, but they basically allow you to “plug in” to the electric grid with solar panels on your roof. The more complex, out of date, or nonsensical the state rules are for plugging into the grid, the lower the grade.

Specifically, the grade reflects what technologies are eligible, individual system capacity, removing interconnection process complexity for smaller systems, interconnection timelines and charges, engineering charges, prohibiting the requirement of unnecessary external disconnects, certification, spot interconnection vs. wide area interconnection, technical screens, friendliness of legalese, insurance requirements, dispute resolution, and rule coverage.

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Solar Incentives in New York

New York Solar Power Rebates

$400-$800 per kW

Grade: B

New York's Solar Rebates grade

Through the NY-Sun PV Incentive Program, New York residents statewide are looking at rebate rates of $400 per kW on solar installations up to 25 kW. That means you can expect a rebate of $2,000 on a 5-kW system. Be aware, however, that these numbers are on the decline as state solar capacity goals are met. The above rates are current through the end of 2016. Don’t be late to the awesome incentives party!

And especially don't be late if you live in a low-moderate income household. In October of 2015, New York passed new rules to make solar more affordable for households that make up to 80% of their county's median income. The state's Affordable Solar program provides double the rebate money for these solar buyers.

For example, in Westchester County, a family of 4 with an income of less than $84,560 will get $800 per kilowatt off the cost of their solar system, which is a huge deal! There are even low-interest solar loans available to help you pay for solar over time.

How do solar rebates work? Similar to getting a rebate card from your local big box store for a dishwasher purchase, state legislatures also provide rebates for solar panel purchases to spur on investment and create new jobs. If you purchase the solar panel system yourself, you qualify for this free cash, which many times is a lump payment back to you. Some solar installers like to take this amount directly off the total installed price, and they'll handle the paperwork for you to make things a lot less complex.

The availability of state and utility rebates were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The better the rebates, the higher the grade.

New York Solar Power Tax Credits

25% up to $5,000

Grade: A

New York's Solar Tax Credits grade

Next up is the sizable New York solar tax credit. You simply take 25% of your total installation cost and file this handy New York tax form IT-255 to receive the credit. Be mindful, there’s a cap of $5,000 on this. So, if you are installing a 5-kW system for $25,000, you’ll be due back $5,000 from the state.

All solar installations are eligible for a 30% tax credit from the Feds as well. You need to calculate your expenses after rebates for this one, so for our hypothetical 5kW system priced at $25,000, you can expect back $6,750 (subtract the state solar power rebate of $2,500 to arrive at $22,500… then take your 30% federal tax credit for $6,750).

About state solar tax credits: State tax credits are not technically free money. However, they are 'credits' and not 'deductions' which means that if you have the tax appetite to take advantage of them, then they can be a 1-to-1 dollar amount off your taxes instead of a fraction of the cost of the system. So that means they can be an important factor to consider. In certain circumstances, state tax credits can provide a very powerful incentive for people to go solar.

(Keep in mind, we are not tax professionals and give no tax advice so please consult a professional before acting on anything we say related to taxes)

The availability of personal tax credits for solar energy were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the tax credit amount, the higher the grade.

Solar Power Performance Payments

None

Grade: F

New York's Solar Performance Payments grade

While there are no ongoing solar performance payments to report (commonly referred to as SRECs), there are significant state solar power rebates and tax credits to take advantage of as a homeowner in New York.

Explanation of performance payments: Performance payments represent a big chunk of the financial rationale for going solar, and in many instances they make your decision a wise one. For certain states, if you’ve got solar panels on your roof, not only will you be cutting your electric bill down to size, but you'll be getting paid additional cash from your utility company. Pretty awesome, huh? Not only are you generating electricity for yourself, freezing your own popsicles with sun, and feeling like you’re doing something smart for your children or any of the other 4 reasons people go solar, but you are getting PAID!

Utility companies are paying people with solar panels on their roofs because their states say they have to, otherwise they will pay a fee. Therefore, the payment amount to homeowners is typically a little bit less than the amount they would be billed for by the state. For states with these alternative compliance fees, Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) exchanges have popped up. In the above chart, we outlined an estimate of yearly payments a homeowner might expect from the utility company for the SREC credits from their solar energy system.

Expected SREC payments were calculated by using the latest trade values in the SRECtrade database. The availability of feed-in tariffs were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The higher the expected monthly payments, the higher the grade.

If you don’t know what an SREC is, or how they work, check out this great SREC video

Property Tax Exemption

100%

Grade: A

New York's Solar Property Tax Exemptions grade

Lawmakers in New York have been doing their best to make going solar easier for residents. In addition to the above solar power rebates and tax credits, the addition of solar panels to your home is exempt from property tax increases for a solid fifteen years, despite the fact that you’ll be adding roughly 20 times your annual electricity bill savings to your property value. In the case of our 5kW example, that adds up to about $22,932 (20 times your annual electricity savings of $1,147).

About solar property tax exemptions: Property tax exemption status is a pretty big factor when putting together your investment considerations. Many argue that solar power adds approximately 20 times your annual electricity bill savings (if you are owning the system and not leasing. Leasing still has a positive impact on the ability to sell your home though, in our opinion).

For many average-sized solar power systems on a house, that can mean $20,000 to your home value. (Edit April, 2014: Some companies, like Solar Mosaic, are starting to offer traditional style equity-based home loans for such a thing). An additional $20,000 in property tax basis in many states amounts to a big chunk of change owed back to the state. However, many states have complete exemptions from added taxes when you install solar on your home!

The availability of a property tax exemption for solar energy was also sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. The stronger the tax exemption, the higher the grade.

Sales Tax Exemption

100%

Grade: A

New York's Solar Sales Tax Exemption grade

Contrary to other home improvements like a new kitchen or bathroom, with solar panels in New York, you will not have to pay any sales taxes on your system! That's a bunch of cash you're saving right upfront.

What's the deal with solar power sales tax exemptions? When states give you a sales tax break on solar, we notice. You should too. State sales tax exemption status for the purchase of solar energy systems were sourced from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency. Sales tax exemptions, if present, were all 100%. A handful of states are completely exempt from sales tax regardless, and therefore received ‘A’ grades by default (OR, DE, MT, AK, and NH).

The consensus on New York solar power rebates and incentives

New York Solar solar power rebates and incentives rock! Hopefully, New York’s leaders will continue their fine work and take even greater advantage of the enormous opportunities for solar installer related jobs – not to mention environmental benefits – by continuing the solar rebate program past its upcoming deadline and implementing performance payments across the state. For 2015, let the good times roll! New York gets our top honors.

Again, if you are confused about how these numbers work and would like some personalized assistance or a quote of your own, simply connect with our network of solar experts. They’ll help sort out all the pricing, get you access to special deals, and they’re super friendly to boot!

 

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53 thoughts on “New York Solar Power for your house – rebates, tax credits, savings

  1. zahid says:

    hi dear its a very nice and helpful blog

  2. Kate says:

    Hello, I am doing a project for my STEM Science and I was wondering about what is the average return investment for solar panels?

  3. Christopher M says:

    I was in the process of shopping around looking at solar companies. I was dealing with one gentleman who showed up at my door that worked for Vivint. After meeting with him he said I needed to sign an agreemetn to proceed. i told him I didn’t want to sign until I know which company I wanted to go with. He said I could cancel even with the “trucks in the driveway” i told him no, he said I had to to proceed and that I could cancel no questions asked. I signed, when he called a bout a month later after guys coming to my house and taking pctures of inside of attic. i received an email from Vivint, I spoke toi the salesman and said I want to cancel as I am not ready yet, April is no good, he said no problem he would take care of it. ia sked him if I needed to send an email or call vivint he said no he was there to work for me and he was Vivint. He started emailing me for new dates the next day. Anyway they installed on the cancelled date. That was in April of 2016. i still don’t know whats going on, I want my house put bak to the way it was before. Is there any reglatory comittee overseeing these companies or is it the wild west?? I need help – my house is my biggest asset and now I feel like it’s been severly devalued.

  4. RODNEY [PLOWE says:

    I am requiring a larger roof mount system around 15Kw. I won’t be able to use the full 30% tax credit in the year installed, if I even can having a business run out of the home, how many years do you have to consume the full credit value?

    1. Ben Zientara says:

      Hi Rodney- From what we hear, this is treated as any other tax credit in that you can take it until your whole credit is exhausted. As for your other questions, You don’t need to claim the NY tax credit as income received on your 1040. As for the home-based-business question, I think you can still take the whole credit (as long as your home is also your primary residence), but there will definitely be some special rules governing how you take depreciation (if at all) for the home or the portion of the home you use in the business. It seems like you need to speak to a CPA or tax attorney. Good luck, man!

  5. RODNEY PLOWE says:

    If you tax the NY tax credit must you then claim it as income on your federal form 1040 as income recieved?

  6. RODNEY PLOWE says:

    The basement of my home is used for a home daycare business. being that we also run a business from the home can I still claim the full 30% tax credit?

  7. Keenan Jones says:

    Ny does have solar performance payments, it’s handled by the utility and it is calulated at the end of a 12 month cycle, which they pay wholesale rate.

  8. Tim Hardy says:

    Does Solarpowerrocks have info on extending Income Tax Credits past the first year of purchase? IE if someone didn’t paying enough in taxes 2015 to get their full ITC back, can they extend that into 2016,2017, 2018?

    1. Ben Zientara says:

      Hi Tim,

      We’re certainly not tax advisers, so take what we say with a grain of salt and check with a CPA or attorney, but from what we understand, you can carry forward the unused portion of the ITC until you’ve received the full amount of the credit. More can be found at our ITC post, https://solarpowerrocks.com/affordable-solar/how-to-claim-the-itc/. Read the comments for deeper insights.

  9. Yacine Faye says:

    Greetings My name is Ndèye Yacine Seck Faye. I am 27 years old and i am from Senegal. I am a business lawyer and i am from Senegal and hol a Master Degree in Private Law and a Master Degree in Law Engineering and Business Management. I am presently working with friends in a project to supply solar panels in Africa and more particularly in Senegal. The reason why we are interested in solar energy and your products , is that our countries are facing a lot of troubles which constitute an undeniable brake in the economic and social development. Our countries totally depend on the fuel electricity supplied by a national company . This national company dont have enough capacity to provide enough electricity. Power cuts are so current that they became normal for senegalese people . Furthermore, the access rate to electricity is very low even non existent in certain parts of the country or the continent. African countries are the most sunniest parts of the globe . They have this great advantage but just dont use it. Here is in summary the reasons why, worrying of remedying this recurring problems of power cuts or absence of electricity, we are in search of partners working in this field of solar energy to help us. Our goal is to use solar energy for a sustainable , economic and social development. I stay tuned to supply you more information on this project. Best Regards

  10. Anonymous says:

    About 6 years ago I had a solar thermal system installed and received 25% back from NY. If I install a PV system, will I be limited to whatever amount gets me to that $5000 limit, or is there a $5000 limit for each system?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Where can I find homeowners’ review of Amergy Solar?

  12. Anonymous says:

    How do the incentives apply to an off grid installation? Obviously leasing is not an option, but do the other rebates and tax credits still apply?if I am building I would rather go off grid initially rather than pay to hook up electricity and then install solar just to not use the city’s!

  13. Anonymous says:

    How does this apply to off grid installations.

  14. Anonymous says:

    what the credit score you need to have this

  15. Anonymous says:

    Furthermore, NYSERA clarified that the New York State incentive is not government funds, but rather money recovered from the utilities (the SBC/RPS surcharge on my ConEd bill). For this reason, NYSERDA recommends also using the gross system cost (including the NYSERDA incentive) when stating the cost basis for the NYS 25% tax credit.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Just read IRS Notice 2013-70. In Question 11 asks if cost basis must be reduced by amount of State Incentives, and the Answer 11.03 states no. So the 30% federal tax credit should be based on the complete cost of the system including the NYSERDA incentive paid to the contractor.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Be careful with the property tax exemption in New York State. Politicians brag about the exemption but they don’t mention the fact that local municipalities can create their own rule to exempt their area from it. Guess what they do! So, there really isn’t a property tax exemption.

  18. Anonymous says:

    We were told we couldn’t use the roof system for solor panels. Would we be able to get a solor panels on the ground. And I don’t quite understand how the cost comes into the picture? Would we still be able to get no money down?

  19. Anonymous says:

    I hear the 2014 Tax incentives expired on 2014- is that true? we are looking to install a new roof to support the new panels.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I am considering Leasing Panels. Are there any Tax incentives if you lease?

    1. Dan Hahn says:

      Hey there anonymous! Unfortunately, you forgo all the possible tax incentives and rebates when you lease your system, but hey, you get solar panels on your roof and you’re generating your own electricity basically for free with nothing out of pocket. So, if you can’t afford the out of pocket cost or lack your own financing to buy the panels yourself, it’s a nice way to go.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I have a great location for solar, but wanted to know what the maintenance is likely to be, and the effects of wind and snow on the system. Also, can I have a system on my home roof, and another on my detached garage roof? Thanks!

    1. The maintenance is likely to be close to zero. The inverter may fail every decade or two, and a squirrel might chew through a wire (Critter wire is important!) but in general the lack of moving parts and established companies and technologies makes for a pretty easy ownership experience. The installer will slope the panels so that the snow will slide off by itself as soon as the sun warms up the panels a bit in the morning. You might have to help it along once or twice, but if the sun isn’t shining enough to melt the snow off the panels you probably aren’t missing much electricity production by having them covered. If you are really concerned, you can ask for micro inverters on each panel so that each panel is producing electricity independently. The installer will also make certain that your roof and racking system can handle the snow and wind loads that are expected in your area. In general having two different locations is not a problem, many people do that. Depending on some variables you may end up with two smaller inverters or one larger one, but that’s really just a detail.

  22. Anonymous says:

    NYSERDA….NEW YORK STATE ENERGY REASEARCH AUTHORITY

  23. Dave Llorens says:

    Frank I think you should signup here if you want a solar quote: https://solarpowerrocks.com/free-solar-estimates/

    I don’t want to approve your comment because it will post your email address on the internet.

    Thanks,
    Dave

  24. George says:

    Are flat roof solar installations more difficult, thereby more expensive? Any concern for wind being an issue with flat roof installation? And finally, would we still get all these incentives and rebates in 2012 if we went with any of the now much cheaper solar panels that are now available from China?

  25. And says:

    Where can I get information about the cost of electricity by the hour (for New York State)? And yet, if I install solar panels and batteries, may I sell the stored energy?

  26. Steve says:

    Do not consider any alternative energy source (solar or wind) in New York state because in 15 years your assesment will go up in amount equal to what you paid for the system before the grants and tax credits. There is no such thing as a payback. I speak from experience because this happened to me. I also was required to get a special use permit that cost me $50/year to renew for my 7.2Kw pole mounted system on my 9.5 acres of land mounted 500 feet from the road! Only in New York (sheisterville) do you get the runaround by crooks! My system was installed in June 2011. Don’t get taken by the scam!
    I thought I would let anyone considering and energy source to know the truth because I was lied too.

  27. madeline Sweeney says:

    I put up solar panels on my home, I went through all the proper channels and got the ok from the NYC Dept of Bldgs. Now, a year later, the DOB issued a permit to my neighbors to build their roof higher – partially blocking my solar panels. What can I do?

  28. LISA says:

    IF MY HUSBAND INSTALLS THE SOLAR PANELS HIMSELF, WOULD WE STILL QUALIFY FOR REBATES/AND OR CREDITS???

    1. Dan Hahn says:

      Unless he’s licensed to do the work Lisa, most probably no. The installation has to meet strict codes that are more assured with training.

  29. We would like to quote the four points under “NY Solar Incentives” on our forum (with a back link to this page for our readers to see the entire article) and wanted to kow if that is fine.

    Were asking since it could cause duplicate content in the search engines and may also be copyrighted.

  30. Dotti says:

    Hi all,
    I have 4, possibly 5 Residential homes in Bronx NY 10465 adjacent to each other that would be interested in getting off the grid and or profiting from the excess energy produced. If we had solar we would possibly consider heating with electric and save some or all of our oil heat bills. We all use electric for cooking at this point because we did not have gas in our neighborhood until last year.
    Can you advise?

  31. T.Parker says:

    Would you give an example of what a 5Kw system would power in an average home? Is that typically enough energy to heat hot water as well? Would you also be able to explain battery storage of solar? Or is storage not cost efficient yet.
    Thanks for any guidance you can give.

  32. Thanks for the info, Steve. Essentially, for all those afraid of clicking downloads, the incentives have been chopped to $1.75/watt ($1750/kW) for residential to a maximum of 5kW. For commercial, it’s also $1750/kW but up to a 50kW system. Also, in both cases, you can’t get more than 50% of the installed cost covered by the rebate, but don’t forget you’ll also be getting the 30% Federal Tax Credit, so this is still a great deal. Thanks, NY!

  33. Steve says:

    NYSERDA reduced their incentives again on 1/11/2010. Here is a link to the new incentives: http://www.powernaturally.org/publications/SummaryofRevisions101309.pdf

  34. tim says:

    I just got a Quote for a Solar PV system with a flat roof installation of amphorous tubes and crystal PV as an awning on a balcony for approximately 10 per kwt
    is this a fair price in todays market.
    3 story building, flat roof, third floor balcony for the solar awning.
    Net metered system.

    1. Tim,

      $10 sounds high for a typical system, but it sounds like you’re doing this in a more customized way than typical. You also need racking, which is extra, and if you’re using as an awning, you’re probably paying extra for that hardware. Also don’t know about any other electrical upgrades needs you might have, which can add to the cost. So…. I would get 2 or 3 quotes to be sure.

      If it were a normal, typical roof top system, without any unusual extras, it should be around $7.50/watt or $7,500/kilowatt, installed. New York is also not as competitive as other states, where it might be even less. But again, it sounds like you’ve got extras, so… might be fair. Best to get another quote and compare.

  35. Paul says:

    Why do most of the solar calculators out there (NYSERDA’s for one) estimate an annual electricity savings so much lower than yours? Most say the same system (5kW with regular bill of $150 per month) will save only about $300 per year. I’m hoping you are right, but you’re the exception, not the rule. Thanks.

    1. Here’s the difference, Paul. First of all, your utility and their rate plans matter. I wrote the above example for Brooklyn, originally, but I realized that doesn’t apply to most of the state. Just NYC, because of a special tax abatement. This latest estimate is for Westchester (updated 10/21/09).

      Also, most calculator parameters are set to a “Default” per watt charge and other defaults. These are usually way behind the times or are too conservative. Based on our sources, we try to give you a competitively priced example that’s in the middle, but it’s always lower than the default (higher) price.

      Of course this default changes all the time. I actually wrote the NY post BASED on the NY calculator. The difference is that I changed the cost parameter to $7.50/watt (7500/kilowatt.) What you save per year is going to also be based on what you input as the your electric rate, as well as what you anticipate the rate rising over the next few years. Taxable income and marital status also affect these figures.

      This is one reason why I don’t like these public calculators. You really have to know how to use them and have the right info to use them. We do our best to keep up to date as professionals, so we’re better than others. The other problem, as I said earlier, is that the rates change…but the software isn’t updated to reflect that.

      In any case, I just redid my calculations using the parameters that I believe I used and I was off. I also had to update because the new rebate rates just went into effect. This may also be the difference, but I swear I didn’t pick that earlier number out of my solar butt. I just input another parameter, and I don’t remember what that is…or the NY state rate software was updated and is now giving a more conservative figure.

      I’m thinking the latter because we really, REALLY try to be transparent and honest on SolarPowerRocks. In all of our posts, we simplify things, yes, so that you can understand it, but we are always honest with our figures.

      As always, if you want to check our figures, get a few quotes from one of our partner installers. Bottom line, we’re human and we make mistakes or are outdated sometimes, but we’re always transparent and if we make a mistake, we’ll always cop to it and tell our readers. If we were trying to hide something, we wouldn’t have published your comment and I wouldn’t have spent the last hour updating the post. The delete button is so much easier, but that’s not how do things here at SPR.

      Thanks for the question!

  36. Michael Crowell says:

    According to the LI Power Authority, the NYS tax credit is not $5,000, but “25% Residential Tax Credit on net costs for a solar electric system” UP TO $5,000. (http://www.lipower.org/efficiency/solar-home-rebates.html) Also, according to a solar contractor we’ve talked to, this is based on the net cost AFTER any power company rebates (in the case of LIPA, $3.50/watt)

    1. Sorry for the misunderstanding, Ron. You’re right, and we’ve fixed it. However, for the example that we gave, it would not have made a difference, as the 25% of net /post rebate cost would still have been over the $5,000 cap. If you have a smaller system than 5kW, however, yes, it would have meant a lower state tax credit.

      Thanks for pointing that out. We short hand things here to keep it simple, but that’s one we should have been more specific about. Hope our error didn’t keep you from going solar.

  37. K says:

    Subtract $7,050 for the 30% Federal tax credit (calculated after subtracting the State rebate)

    ! BUT The federal credit is limited to $2,000 see form 5695 !

    1. That form is out of date. There is no longer a $2000 cap on the Federal Investment Tax Credit. It is 30%.

  38. Joan Bobbette says:

    What about off-grid systems? Doesn;t it seem that everything is geared to helping the utilities and not the consumers? What rebates and incentives are available from New York State for off-grid systems?

  39. john says:

    hi i live in staten island n.y i am interested in installing solar panels i want a 8kw system enough to get me off the grid can you tell me what all the rebates are

  40. shirley hirsch says:

    shirley
    I live in Rockland County, N.Y.I would like to install a solar hot water heater for my pool. Can I qualify for a grant and what are the incentives? (I am handicapped)

  41. Roger says:

    Is there any reason the cost for mains electricity is so high in NY state?

  42. Dear Sir/Madam, I would like to start a similar service to yours (this web site) in South Africa where we have a desperate need for energy other than our “cheap” coal. Would you be prepared to assist me with this project?
    Regards, George

  43. chris says:

    where do i get a list of percise rebates and incentives offered by ny state as well as LIPA?

  44. h. robins says:

    is there any info that you can send me or can you tell me about rebates from the government to make the install cheaper

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