After significant market growth, Long Island has become the first region in New York to reach its limit for residential solar rebates available through the NY-Sun initiative, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
As the agency explains, NY-Sun was designed to stimulate solar expansion and build a solar industry across the state that is self-sustaining and able to function without public subsidies. NY-Sun’s MW Block Program divided the state into three geographic regions – Long Island, Con Edison territory and Upstate – each with incentives allocated based on the maturity of the market and with the level of incentives declining over time as pre-set targets were met. The program offers one-time rebates to help cover the costs of residential solar installations up to 25 kW.
Long Island’s allocated capacity under the program was 139 MW over four residential blocks. The level of incentive in the region decreased from $0.50/W in block one, which opened Jan. 1, 2014, to $0.20/W in block four, which began April 24, 2015, with two intermediate steps in between.
NYSERDA says Long Island’s residential solar market has grown 320% since 2012. Notably, the program also offers subsidies for nonresidential solar, and Long Island has not yet reached the caps for that sector.
“The tremendous growth of solar on Long Island under Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative has greatly expanded the use of clean, sustainable energy in the region,” says John B. Rhodes, president and CEO of NYSERDA. “Long Island’s solar industry is strong and actively serving the growing clean energy market, and we know this momentum will continue.”
Peter Constantakes, another NYSERDA representative, contends that although some may consider the end of Long Island’s residential rebates a bad development, “this is actually a positive thing.”
“Long Island’s market growth shows the program worked exactly the way it was designed,” he says, adding that he expects solar to continue providing homeowners in the region with a substantial return on investment, even without the rebates.
NYSERDA points out that other financial incentives and programs supporting residential solar installations are still available to Long Island residents, including state and federal tax credits, Affordable Solar for low- to moderate-income households, and the Solarize North Hempstead and Solarize Southampton campaigns. Through net metering, solar customers may also reduce costs if a solar energy system produces more electricity than their home requires, the agency adds.
Furthermore, the Long Island Power Authority board recently approved community net metering, which will offer opportunities for solar developers to build large off-site projects that residents can buy into or lease portions of to reduce their energy bills, and on-bill financing is expected to be available to Long Island customers through PSEG Long Island this summer.
According to NYSERDA, NY-Sun has accelerated the growth of solar across the state, with the amount of solar power installed and in development under the Governor’s NY-Sun initiative increasing 575% from 2012 through 2015. In addition, the agency says New York’s solar industry employs more than 8,250 workers, an increase of more than 3,000 jobs since 2013. In 2016, double-digit job growth is expected to continue with another 1,000 additional jobs created as a result of the state’s robust solar project pipeline.