Are solar panels worth the investment in New York?

Are you considering a solar energy system for your home or business in New York, but want to know more about the costs and benefits before making a decision? In this article we look at the reasons why going solar is a good idea in New York, and also examine the various incentives and financing options that may be available to you if you are a New York resident.

The main takeaway for you is this: solar panels are definitely worth the investment in New York – especially if you’re willing to shop around for a good deal. Compare your options on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace.

New York State is already a solar leader

New York is no slouch when it comes to solar – it ranks in the top 10 solar states in terms of total installed solar capacity (see our infographic below). And even bigger things are in store for solar’s future in the Empire State: With the introduction of its progressive Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceedings, New York state is making strides to turn itself into a solar powerhouse.

Additionally, the NY Sun Initiative (which will eventually be brought under the REV policy umbrella) has set a goal of 3 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity to be installed in the state by 2023 – that’s more than eight times the 338 megawatts (MW) currently installed. How is it going to reach this goal? By encouraging market growth making sure that solar panels continue to be a financially attractive option for homes and businesses across the state.

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Measuring the cost of solar power: Dollars-per-watt ($/W) and levelized cost of energy (LCOE)

What should you look at to determine if you’re getting a good deal on solar? There are lots of things to pay attention to when deciding on a solar energy system; but two of the most useful metrics for evaluating the cost and value of a solar power offer are ‘dollars-per-watt’ ($/W) and ‘levelized cost of energy’ (LCOE).

You can use $/W to compare solar energy system installation prices, while LCOE is great for comparing the average per-unit cost of the electricity the system will produce. We discuss both $/W and LCOE in detail in this article. Continue reading

What happens if your tax liability is too small to claim the Investment Tax Credit for solar?

The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a generous incentive from the federal government. It was put in place to encourage uptake of solar energy and other renewable energy systems in 2006. It has been tremendously successful in this goal: the number of solar installations in the US has increased 1,600% since the ITC was introduced.

Many EnergySage customers quickly understand the potential benefits of the ITC, but have questions when it comes to the particulars of how it operates. Frequently, we field questions about whether or not they can claim the ITC at all, and when and how it can be applied to their tax bills. Continue reading

Are residential electricity prices going up or down?

If you’re considering whether going solar is a worthwhile financial move for your home, there are essentially two factors that you should look at: 1) the costs associated with solar power, and 2) the rates you pay for electricity from your utility. Going solar makes economic sense when solar electricity costs less than grid electricity.

As for solar, it is clear that costs are coming down. Rooftop solar panels are now more affordable and accessible than ever. This is why more and more households are having solar energy systems installed: going solar is a great way to reduce your power bills.

But what about the future cost of grid electricity? If electricity rates are going up, then of course going solar makes sense. As you’re probably aware, however, utility electricity rates fluctuate seasonally and annually. “What if utility electricity rates go down instead of up?” you might be asking yourself. Would it still be worth it for you to go solar? This article seeks to address this question, put to rest any idea that grid electricity rates could be going down Continue reading

Are solar panels worth it in Massachusetts? Yes, and there is an option for you

Are solar panels worth it in Massachusetts? Despite the state’s reputation for its cold, snowy winters, going solar is in fact a great way for Massachusetts residents to save money on their power bills. In this article we take a look at why solar panels are such a great investment for your home or business in Massachusetts.

Why are solar panels so popular in Massachusetts?

2015 is set to be a big year for residential solar power for the USA. Massachusetts is going to be one of the states that leads the way as more and more Massachusetts homeowners and businesses discover the benefits of rooftop solar panels. Continue reading

The solar revolution is now: Solar energy beating grid electricity on cost in more and more places

Still think solar panels are an expensive way to generate electricity? Think again. Solar energy system costs have fallen significantly in recent years, becoming increasingly competitive with power from electric utilities across the US. And as the global solar industry grows, prices look set to fall even further.

According to Deutsche Bank’s 2015 Solar Outlook report, solar energy system costs are likely to drop 40% in the next 4-5 years, in keeping with the steep downwards trend of the past decade. Given that utility electricity rates are only going to continue to rise, this means solar is set to become an increasingly attractive financial option for homes and businesses around the US – and the world.

Another report titled “Renewable Energy Generation Costs in 2014” released in January by the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) backs up Deutsche Bank’s conclusions. Like the Deutsche Bank report, IRENA also concludes that falling costs have made solar financially competitive with grid electricity in many parts of the world – including much of the US. The report also shows that there have been dramatic declines in the cost of solar energy systems in the past few years (including a 3/4 drop in the cost of solar panels) – and says that there is still substantial room for further cost reductions as the solar industry expands. Continue reading

FHA and Fannie Mae agree: A solar panel system adds value your home (if you own the system)

One question that EnergySage receives regularly from our customers is: “Will solar panels increase the value of my property?” It is clear that the answer is already a resounding ‘yes’, and the evidence only continues to mount. We have compiled a list of studies that highlight this point, and recently wrote about Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory’s recent study showing that solar panels increase home values significantly across the US. These studies mainly look at cases where the homeowner is also the owner of the solar panel system.

We know for certain that owning your solar system will save you more money on your electricity bills in the long run than installing your system under a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA). This is the primary reason that homes with solar panels sell for more: they offer a definite financial benefit to the future owner. What has been less clear is the how much (if any) value is added to your home if you’ve financed your system with a solar lease/PPA. “Will a leased solar panel system add value to my home?” is another question we receive on a regular basis. Two recent documents which EnergySage has reviewed shed further light on the matter. Continue reading

New York’s fracking ban: Gas on the way out, solar in for Empire State’s energy future?

At the end of last year, governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York State will put a stop to high volume hydraulic fracking (HVHF, also known as ‘fracking’) within its borders – making it the second state (Vermont being the first) to ban the controversial practice. Environmentalists have applauded the decision, and a recent Quinnipiac University poll found that over half of New Yorkers approve as well.

Here we look at three questions about New York’s decision to put fracking activities on hold:

  1. Why was fracking banned in New York state?
  2. How will the ban affect electricity prices in New York?
  3. How does the fracking ban fit into the state’s longer-term goal of fostering greater uptake of renewable energy technologies like rooftop solar panels?

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Solar panels and winter weather: Will the snow affect how much power my system produces?

The northeastern states of the US have been hammered by snowstorm after snowstorm in recent weeks. This has left many residents with sour, wintry tastes in their mouths as they grow tired of the preparation and aftermath associated with heavy snowfall events. It also might have many people wondering whether solar panels work at all in these conditions. Are solar panels worth it in places where the winters are long, dark, snowy and cold? Believe it or not, the answer is yes.

Winter is only one of the four seasons

Perhaps the first thing you should bear in mind as you consider solar panels for your home in the cold, northern latitudes is that the worst of winter (heavy snow and short days) lasts only for 3 months of the year. And remember that the further from the equator you are, the longer your days are when the summer does finally roll around, partially making up for the generally lower solar energy production levels of winter. This means that you don’t have to live in Las Vegas or Los Angeles for going solar to be worthwhile. Continue reading

New York’s Third Industrial Revolution: State puts focus on distributed energy with Reforming the Energy Vision initiative

New York is aiming to fundamentally reshape the way electricity is generated, distributed and marketed in the state. Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, the state government has set out to answer the pressing question of how to bring the state’s electricity system into the 21st century. The Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative is a decision-making process whose proceedings will ultimately result in the overhaul the state’s retail electricity markets – while also finding ways to better integrate renewables and energy efficiency into the system

NY REV - Future of Energy

The New York Public Services Commission (PSC) determined that the REV program was needed in order to address several developing issues with the state’s electricity system. The issues REV aims to address can be divided into 3 categories: Continue reading