- New York has a number of incentives for residents installing solar panels
- New Yorkers can also benefit from federal tax rebates by installing before 2017
- Complete the form at the top of this page to compare prices of installers operating in New York or read our guide to solar in New York below
Overview of Solar Systems in New York
Anyone who’s weathered the long stretch between Thanksgiving and Easter in New York could be forgiven for looking at you a bit funny when you mention solar power. That’s especially true for those living further upstate, whether near Lake George, Albany, Rochester or Plattsburgh.
But here’s a reality check: Manhattan, Syracuse, and even Buffalo are further south, and have better sunlight exposure than Berlin or Munich, and Germany is the world’s leader in solar energy production. Viewed in that light, the question becomes, “Why not New York?”
For utilities and residential customers, solar power is helped along by several factors. As with many states, New York has set its sights on high solar targets for the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Local governments, especially in New York City, have embraced solar as part of a broader strategy that includes green building standards; they view solar as a means of meeting peak energy demands, especially in the summer months.
Finally, New Yorkers are encouraged to take advantage of numerous financial incentives and tax breaks that reward homeowners who opt for power generated by photovoltaic (PV) cells.
Solar Rebates and Incentives in New York
Like their counterparts in the rest of the country, New York residents can take advantage of a plethora of Federal programs that incentivize solar (you can read more about them here). Those Federal incentives are augmented by a variety of state and local initiatives that have spurred the growth of solar in the state.
Perhaps the largest of these is NY-Sun, an initiative spearheaded by Governor Andrew Cuomo. NY-Sun acts as an umbrella organization and regulatory body for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), LIPA (the Long Island Power Authority), PSE&G Long Island, and the NYPA (New York Power Authority). The net result of this is that in two years, New York has installed more solar capacity than in the entire decade preceding. The agency has been funded to the tune of one billion dollars.
New York offers a Power Naturally Incentive Program for commercial and residential property owners who pay an RPS fee on their electric bills. The state also provides sales and use tax exemptions for solar installations (capped at $5,000); these are unique in that customers using PPAs and solar leasing can also take advantage of the tax benefits. Most municipalities also offer property tax exemptions for solar installations. Further regulations and incentives apply to net metering, new solar construction, and generous rebates for retrofitting existing structures. A special rebate structure is applied for low-income customers that can double the existing incentives.
Solar Panel Companies in New York
National Installers Operating in New York
Direct Energy Solar operates primarily on the East Coast from New York to Washington, DC. The company offers both purchase and no-money-down lease options. Twice named by the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in the United States, the company has experienced success by focusing exclusively on residential installations.
SolarCity is closing in on its first decade in business. In addition to the expected lease and purchase options, SolarCity runs the GivePower Foundation, which donates a panel-and-battery system to a community in need for each megawatt of PV power installed.
Sungevity provides business and residential solar solutions to fourteen states, including New York. One standout feature of their service is a referral structure that rewards customers for referring friends and family.
Local Installers Operating in New York
Active Solar Development is a registered NYSERDA PV and thermal solar installer in New York with NABCEP and BPI certified installers. They cover all of New York State, Western Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire.
Great Brook Solar is a NABCEP Certified Installer. What sets them apart is that the company has been in operation since 1978, giving them a depth of knowledge and experience that’s hard to match.
Lighthouse Solar serves both New York and Texas (the former via an office in New Paltz). The company provides end-to-end support from the initial consultation through financing, permitting, contracting, installation, and service.
Long Island Power Solutions founder Joseph Milillo’s ambition is to see solar pandels become “as common an appliance as a microwave oven.” To that end, his company has provided photovoltaic sales, service and installation to Long Island residents since 2008, and bills itself as the top solar installer (by volume) on the Island.
Mercury Solar Systems has completed over 2,000 installations in New York for a mix of clients that includes residential, business, industrial and nonprofit customers. That versatility, combined with a nine-year track record, leaves the company well-positioned to handle installations of nearly any size and shape.
Solar hasn’t yet captured the same market share on the East Coast as it has in the West and Southwest. However, New York is clearly leading the way for the Eastern Seaboard thanks to a combination of regulations, tax incentives, ambitious renewable portfolio targets, and good old-fashioned innovation. The pace at which utilities and private customers alike are adopting renewables means that the future of solar power in New York is as bright as Times Square.