How to Get Free Solar Panels Installed in New York

How to get free solar panels in New York

Sure, many of our blog posts round up the incentives for installing solar power in various states. But is it possible to get solar panels installed for free? If it is possible anywhere, it is possible in New York, which has an impressive array of renewable energy incentives. Let's explore the options.

 

Do you live in New York? Find out how to get FREE solar panels!

Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

To start with the obvious, the Federal Solar Tax Credit applies in New York, saving up to 26% off the cost of making the leap to solar power. Being a tax credit, you can only take full advantage of this program if you owe more than the credit amount on next year's IRS filing. Most homeowners will have no issue with applying the tax credit. If you are a tax-exempt entity (a non-profit organization), you can also claim the credit as a direct payment instead.

To qualify, the solar panels must be installed by December 31st, 2022. Note that in 2023, the Federal ITC will drop from 26% to 22%, barring any changes introduced by new legislation.

New York State Solar Equipment Tax Credit

Going "tit for tat" with the federal program, New York state also offers its own tax credit applied after installing solar panels on your home. This credit is good for up to $5K or 25% of your state tax liability. Once again, like a typical tax credit, you have to owe that much or more in taxes to take full advantage of the credit. However, the credit balance can be carried forward for up to five years' tax filings.

In any case, between federal and New York state, we've wiped out 50% of the cost of installing solar panels already!

NY-Sun Megawatt Block Incentive

NY-Sun is a public-private partnership which works directly as a liaison between homeowners and solar installation contractors. This program applies to residential, industrial, and commercial solar installations. The NY-Sun Megawatt Block Initiative offers up-front direct-cash rebates for installed solar systems on a "dollars-per-watt" basis. This subsidy is paid out based on your region, the size of your system, and how much of this subsidy has been claimed already - so you want to apply for this as fast as possible.

Rebates can total up to $500 per kW capacity, up to several thousand dollars. Residents who qualify for a low-income incentive can save even more. Once again, we can see where this program can trim about 25% off the cost of installing solar. That cost is going away fast!

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Solar For All - Community Solar Sign-Up

Can you get solar energy without installing panels? This program is unique to New York state as far as we've seen. Solar For All works like a subscription service; you sign up to buy electricity from a community solar array instead of getting it installed on your roof. With no up-front cost, you just start saving on your power bill. The downside here is that there are only so many slots available in certain regions, so you might end up on a waiting list. Qualifying subscribers can save up to $15/month on their power bill. Find out more about Solar For All. You can sign up for this program here.

So there you have it - proof that you can use solar power in New York and even benefit from cash savings - for free!

But let's get back to that home install, which, after all, pays for itself in much larger savings anyway.

Solar Installation Financing

It is also possible to blunt your up-front costs for installing solar panels by financing the purchase. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers finance options for installing solar panels. They are:

  • On-Bill Recovery Loan - Finances your purchase as a flat billing added to your power bill
  • Smart Energy Loans - NYSERDA will simply loan you the cost with interest and monthly payments
  • Renewable Energy Tax Credit Bridge Loan - You get a loan based on your tax credit, borrowing the savings up front to pay back when the credit is applied

So this is another way to install solar panels while paying no up-front costs, then paying the costs over time while already benefiting from the savings on your power bill.

Tax Exemptions

Standard for most any state which cares about subsidizing solar, New York state offers a couple tax incentives for solar installs. These are a property tax exemption (Solar Electric Generating System Tax Abatement (SEGS)) and a sales tax exemption for buying solar equipment.

There's Much More to Solar in New York!

With some of the best solar power incentives in the country, New York has no end of initiatives and creative legislation to facilitate renewable energy adoption. The state has also led the nation in aggressive legislation to combat climate change, with targets for eliminating greenhouse gasses from the state's entire economy. Watch this space for updates, because New York gets things done fast!

 

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Are Solar Panels Free for New York Residents?

Between the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the New York State Solar Equipment Tax Credit, you can wipe away 50% of the cost of installing solar panels. When you factor in additional programs like NY-Sun, and tax exemptions like Solar Electric Generating System Tax Abatement (SEGS) homeowners can completely cut the cost of installing solar panels. 

Is there solar financing available in New York?

It is also possible to blunt your up-front costs for installing solar panels by financing the purchase. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers finance options for installing solar panels. They are:

  • On-Bill Recovery Loan - Finances your purchase as a flat billing added to your power bill
  • Smart Energy Loans - NYSERDA will simply loan you the cost with interest and monthly payments
  • Renewable Energy Tax Credit Bridge Loan - You get a loan based on your tax credit, borrowing the savings up front to pay back when the credit is applied.