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New York is banking that the sun will shine

New York State is bullish on solar power. Not only is it investing in solar energy as a comparable source of electricity to hydroelectric or coal, but it is also encouraging early investment by residents and commercial users by offering financial incentives. The value of the incentive will decrease as more people and enterprises shift into the solar power market. If you’re a New York state resident and are considering installing a solar power system for your home or business, your state government wants to reward you for your excellent judgment. Here’s how and why:

Governor Cuomo’s $1B “NY-Sun” project

Announced in 2012, the NY-Sun project represents the governor’s intent to move NY state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. To accomplish that goal, he has allocated nearly $1B to significantly expand deployment of solar capacity throughout the state. His vision is to make New York a national leader in solar development. The long-term goal is to make the state’s solar industry completely self-sufficient, with no government subsidies, as the cost of solar becomes comparable to the cost of electricity from the grid. By 2023, the state of New York is expecting to have three Gigawatts of installed capacity (the equivalent of two coal-fired power plants), enough to “clean power” more than 2 million homes.

Reducing the cost of solar energy

The financial investment represents the intention to reduce the overall cost of installation, other than the cost of the solar panels. New York is working to streamline the “balance of system” (BoS) costs — permitting and inspection services, connections to grids, training for local officials and first responders, and other costs associated with accessing utility-grade services. The purpose is to bring the cost of installing and maintaining a solar power system to be comparable to or less than the cost associated with accessing traditional energy sources, such as coal or hydroelectric.

Regions and sectors provide structure

New York has redesigned its solar programs to create uniformity across the state and ensure that all areas have fair access to solar power incentives and resources. The industry will be overseen by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in collaboration with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), Public Service Enterprise Group Long Island (PSEG LINY) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA). The collaboration is working to make the transition from a series of previous solar power programs into a single, state-wide solar industry.
NYSERDA is using a system that allocates solar power by megawatts (MW). Each MW is equivalent to 1,000 kilowatts (kW). Three regions across the state will issue incentives based on the number of MW allocated to that region. Each of the three regions (Long Island, Con Edison Territory, and Upstate) is divided into three sectors (residential systems up to 25 kW; small non-residential systems up to 200 kW, and non-residential systems larger than 200 kW). Each region and sector has been assigned a MW target at certain incentive levels, which are referred to as “blocks.” As each application comes in for each successive block, the kW number per application receives an incentive. Once the kW target for that block is achieved, that incentive level is closed. The next block opens with a new, lower incentive value per kW.
It’s important to note that the incentive levels are different in each region:

Con Edison Territory has incentives for 302 MW residential projects and 303 MW for small non-residential projects;

Upstate has 444 MW for residential projects and 451 for small non-residential projects;

Long Island has incentives for 122 MW residential projects and 58 MW for small non-residential projects.

The three regions have differing levels of incentives based on the maturity of the markets in those areas.

Improving the economy while reducing greenhouse gases

The overall industry growth is expected to produce as many as 22,000 directly and indirectly created jobs, across a broad spectrum of salary ranges, skill bases and employment fields. The state would benefit by potentially $20 billion in economic activity from construction, installation and maintenance of solar systems. At the same time, the state will be saving money by reducing the tax dollars it presently spends out-of-state for coal energy from around the country.
Also, the quantity of greenhouse gases presently emitted across the state will drop. Energy received from the solar power industry would replace that which is currently supplied by coal-powered energy plants, the emissions from which are the equivalent of more than 2,000,000 cars emitting exhaust per year.

Funding is available for solar power now

To encourage implementation of the project across the state, NYSERDA is facilitating access to financing opportunities. Residential and small non-residential projects may qualify for special funding for solar electric systems through Green Jobs-Green NY The NY Green Bank may also have financing opportunities.
Certainly, New York’s investment into a state-wide infrastructure for solar energy declares its commitment to building the solar power industry as a stable and sustainable energy option.
RGS Energy can help you identify financing options and incentives levels, no matter what region of the state in which you live. Visit www.sandbox.rgsenergy.com today to get the best incentive level available.

Article Sources

http://greenbank.ny.gov/
http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/43231.html
http://www.nylcv.org/solar
http://cleantechnica.com/2011/11/11/california-now-has-1-gigawatt-of-solar-power-installed/
http://www.energytaxsavers.com/articles/NY-Offers-Billions-in-Energy-Incentives
http://ny-sun.ny.gov/About/NY-Sun-FAQ

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