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How To Get Free Solar Panels Installed in New York

Updated February 5, 2024

If you are a homeowner in New York, there is a good chance that you qualify for a free solar panel installation for your home or business! This guide will help you find out if you qualify and how to get started with solar.

How to get free solar panels in New York

Step 1: Review Your Options

There are several programs that offer free solar panels and installations to residents of New York. Your options depend on a number of factors such as where you live, the type of energy system you need, and your income status. Based on these factors, you may also qualify for even more financial benefits like rebates and tax credits. The following are some of the most popular and beneficial programs currently available in New York….

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Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

The most common path to "free" solar is a Power Purchase Agreement directly between you and a state-licensed solar energy company. Under a "PPA", the solar company absorbs the full cost of the solar panel equipment and installation for you.

The solar company is technically the owner of the equipment, however, they are responsible for providing you with electricity produced from your home for a guaranteed fixed rate (unlike the unpredictable rising costs of traditional utilities). They are also responsible for any continued maintenance or repairs the solar system may require.

This can be a great option if you don’t want to buy or simply can’t afford buying the solar panels outright. Even though the homeowner isn’t purchasing the actual solar system, they still enjoy the benefits of solar energy and save money on their electricity bills.

New York State Solar Programs

While New York does not have a statewide rebate program, they do offer some of the best solar incentives in America, including a massive 25% state tax credit for solar equipment worth up to $5,000!

There’s also the NY-Sun Initiative Megawatt Block Program that pays you cash for every kilowatt of solar installed on your home, which varies based on where you live. For example, the incentive rate is $0.20 per watt in the Con Edison service territory (New York City), and $0.30 per watt in upstate regions.

Additionally, local governments and utility companies provide generous solar incentives and programs, each with unique eligibility requirements. When combined, the plethora of incentives in New York significantly offset the cost of going solar and can even provide a financial return.

Considering how specific each program is to the details of your home, we strongly suggest you speak with a local solar expert to review all of your best options.

Additional Financial Benefits

In addition to these programs, there are many financial benefits for homeowners in New York who switch to solar energy. Some of the biggest incentives and benefits are:

Federal Tax Credit: Formerly known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), this program was extended in 2022 and renamed the Residential Clean Energy Credit. Homeowners who install solar can claim a massive federal tax credit worth 30% of the gross system cost (including panels, related equipment, wiring, installation, permits, and fees). That means that if the gross system cost is $20,000, your federal tax credit would be a whopping $6,000!

Net Metering: Net metering is a buyback program that pays you credits for any excess energy your solar panels produce and send back to the grid. You can then apply those credits towards future energy bills.

New York offers net metering for residential solar systems up to 25 kW of capacity (for context, most home systems are only about 10 kW) and up to 750 kW for non-residential solar projects.

Multiple Tax Exemptions: Homeowners with solar can receive a property tax exemption for the value of their system for 15 years. This allows homeowners to increase their property values without increasing their taxes. The state also applies a Sales Tax Exemption to the purchase of the system, so residents won't have to pay the 4% NY state sales tax.

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Step 2: Find Out if Your Home Qualifies

Depending on where you live, your home may qualify for several different solar savings or free install programs, each with unique advantages. We strongly recommended you speak with a local solar expert regarding your options prior to installation. If you begin an installation without applying for the right programs, you may lose out on massive savings!

Step 3: Get a State-Licensed Installation

Working with a state-licensed installer is the best way to ensure your solar system is installed safely, securely, and most importantly, legally. Setting up a cutting-edge solar system and connecting it with your utility company’s grid is no simple DIY project. Be sure only to evaluate options provided from licensed and insured solar panel installers.

Contact our local New York solar experts and we’ll walk you through the whole process, from qualification to installation!

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Author & Solar Energy Expert

Pete is a multimedia artist and seasoned author with a career older than Google. He brings a wealth of experience in science education to his engaging narratives to progress society towards a more sustainable future.

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