The State of New York has been an early adopter of solar relative to the United States, and it has a healthy mix of residential, commercial, community, and utility-scale solar. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that through Q1 2022, New York has installed 3.6 GW of solar across nearly 163,000 projects.
The solar industry has led to the creation of over 10,000 jobs and more than $8.2 billion in investment. The future appears to be bright for New York, which ranks 7th in SEIA’s growth projection, with a potential 4.7 GW to be installed over the next five years.
The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) is one of the leading driving forces that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy adoption. It has operated in New York State since 1975, working with residents, business owners, developers, community leaders, local government officials, universities, utilities, investors, entrepreneurs, to help develop, invest, and foster conditions that boost the efficiency and clean energy goals of the state.
NYSERDA works to attract private sector capital investment in renewable energy, works on tackling barriers to its adoption, and works to bring the benefits of these technologies directly to community members.
New York has quite a few incentives for solar at its disposal, with the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) listing over 40 different incentives available across sectors.
NYSERDA administers many of these incentives through the NY-Sun program. Incentives through the program are provided directly to the selected solar contractor and vary widely throughout the state. Only NYSERDA-approved participating contractors are eligible for NY-Sun incentives. Households earning less than 80% of the median income in the area are offered increased incentives.
NY-Sun also offers on-bill recovery loans, which streamlines payments by allowing customers to add installation costs as a line item on the monthly utility bill. If the home is sold, the unpaid balance of the loan can be easily transferred to new homeowners.
NY-Sun also offers residential “Smart Energy” loans, paid directly to the NYSERDA loan servicer. Rates vary, and those interested can use the interest rate estimator tool developed by NYSERDA. Projects that exceed $25,000 can access a “Companion Loan,” which places interest rates at 6.5%.
Customers of Consolidated Edison, National Grid, PSE&G and other participating utilities are eligible for net metering. This process is the buyback of excess solar electricity, which is credited to the monthly utility bill. While net metering is under danger of being weakened or removed in many states, New York currently has a strong net metering program in which a full retail rate, (i.e., the rate paid to the utility), is paid for excess solar power sent back to the grid.
New York also offers a generous state tax credit, which can reduce tax payments by up to $5,000 or 25% off your total solar energy expenses, whichever is lower. One great advantage of this incentive is you do not have to purchase a system to qualify, and even lease and power purchase agreement customers can take advantage of the benefit. Also, if tax liability is not high enough in the first year, the tax incentive can be rolled over year to year.
New York’s Megawatt Block Incentive program provides an up-front dollars-per-watt rebate for both commercial and residential solar panel systems. The size of the payment depends on system size, the current capacity block and the region. As of January 2022, incentive values range from $0.20/W to $0.50/W.
New York is one of the epicenters of community solar in the United States, hitting the milestone of 1 GW of cumulative installations earlier this year, and currently holding a pipeline of more than 700 potential projects on the way. It offers customers who do not have a suitable roof for solar to opt-in to source their energy usage from local off-premises solar facilities.
It requires no upfront cost, savings on monthly utility bills, a lower carbon footprint, and minimal commitment with shorter-term options and pay-as-you-go payment terms.
New York has set ambitious goals for renewable energy procurement and buildout, including sourcing 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable and increasing solar deployment to 10 GW by 2030.
SEIA has been active in fighting policy battles for New York, including, but not limited to; the preservation of net metering, important fixes to the state’s VDER tariff, pushing the 70% clean energy standard, and revising the taper-down of the Megawatt Block Incentive program so that it may align with previous Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal of 10 GW of deployment.
SEIA’s past policy actions include shaping the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth Act, which will streamline siting and permitting for large-scale solar projects in New York, extending an early, richer phase of net metering, expanding the NY-Sun program and boosting incentive values over initial proposed levels, and participating in the NYSERDA-led COVID restart task force, which ensured solar work was part of early re-opening guidelines.
One notable project is the 7.5 MW community solar project in Schenectady County that caused New York to reach the 1 GW community solar deployment milestone. Developed by DSD renewables, the project was a brownfield solar installation, located on a former landfill site in Glenville, NY.
The project was built with 10 MWh of energy storage, and is part of a larger 25 MW portfolio launched the Schenectady County Solar Energy Consortium, which provides $400,000 in annual energy savings to municipalities in the county.
At the project ribbon-cutting, Governor Kathy Hochul said, “Reaching this nation-leading milestone – with more than one gigawatt of community solar installed – is a testament to New York’s aggressive pursuit of clean-energy alternatives that will supercharge our economy and bring us one step closer to a carbon-neutral future.”
Last time, the pv magazine tour of the 50 states of solar took us to neighboring New Jersey, and next we will travel farther south down the South-Atlantic region.
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