Virtually every state in the country has some kind of support program for rooftop solar energy systems. But you're especially fortunate if you're planning on going solar in New York State: your state has some of the most ambitious solar incentives in the country. Thanks to these incentives, solar has become a very attractive investment in New York.
What are the best New York state solar incentives?
There are three main incentive programs that make going solar a sweet deal in New York:
The Megawatt Block Incentive Structure
New York’s Megawatt Block Incentive is a direct, generous incentive for solar energy available under New York's ambitious NY-Sun Initiative. The program provides an up front dollars-per-watt ($/W) rebate for both commercial and residential solar panel systems. The size of your subsidy depends on how much solar energy is already being produced in your area and could be as high as $1/W.
New York net metering
Net metering is a crucial policy that ensures you get paid a fair price for the solar electricity that you send into the grid. Any credits for excess solar power that you accrue are stored in a “credit bank” and can be used in future months (usually winter) if your solar energy system produces less electricity.
New York State Solar Equipment Tax Credit
The New York solar tax credit can reduce your state tax payments by up to $5,000 or 25% off your total solar energy expenses (whichever is lower). The great advantages of the Solar Equipment Tax Credit are twofold: first, you don't have to purchase your system to claim the credit (i.e. it applies to you even if you went solar with a lease or PPA), and second, if your tax liability isn't large enough to claim the entire credit in the first year, you can roll it over into the next year.
Other New York solar programs and incentives
The NY-Sun Initiative
NY-Sun is an umbrella program for a number of solar industry support mechanisms in New York State, including (but not limited to) the Megawatt Block Incentive Structure. NY-Sun, in conjunction with NYPA, also provides the backbone for the state's Community Solar and K-Solar programs.
Reforming the Energy Vision (REV)
The ultimate goal of the REV Initiative is to reinvent New York State's energy systems with a focus on 'distributed energy' technologies like rooftop solar panels and energy storage. Although it does not directly subsidize rooftop solar power, its ultimate aim is to level the playing field for distributed energy vs centralized power plants (like coal, gas and nuclear) through market reforms.
Don't forget about the federal Investment Tax Credit!
If you add on the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to New York's already generous solar incentives, the deal becomes even sweeter. The ITC allows you to reduce your federal tax liability by up to 30% of the net cost of your solar energy system (that is, after other rebates and credits). The ITC applies only if you purchase your solar energy system. If you do not have a large enough tax liability to claim your entire credit, it can be rolled over into the next year.