New York’s Megawatt Block Solar Incentive Saves You Thousands on Solar

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The Megawatt Block Incentive Structure (Megawatt Block) is one of New York’s most important solar incentives. The program provides strong subsidies for both commercial and residential rooftop solar energy systems. The size of your subsidy depends on how big the solar energy system you install is, and how much solar energy is already being produced in your area. You also don’t need to take any action to claim the benefit if you use a state certified installer.

In total, the various solar incentives available in New York State could reduce the cost of going solar by more than 50%. So why not start shopping for solar today? EnergySage’s New York Solar Marketplace is a great place to start comparing your options.

Megawatt Block Solar Incentive Structure: How to determine your incentive

The Megawatt Block Incentive provides generous up-front discounts for solar energy systems, delivered in a ‘dollar-per-watt’ ($/W) format. The highest incentives available through the program are $1/W, but will eventually fall to as low as $0.15/W.

What’s a watt? Kilowatt? Megawatt? A ‘watt’ (W) is the basic measurement of solar electricity generation capacity. 1,000 watts is equal to a kilowatt (kW), which is the measure commonly used when talking about rooftop solar systems. (The average rooftop solar energy system in the USA is about 6kW). 1,000 kilowatts is equal to a megawatt (MW) – typically used when talking about large amounts of solar capacity. 1MW is equivalent to about 160 residential solar installations.

A number of factors influence the amount of the discount you may be eligible for. The questions below will help you determine your incentive.

1. Which region of New York do you live in and who is your utility?

Under the Megawatt Block Incentive, New York State is divided into three geographic / utility network districts: Long Island, Con Edison territory (NYC and Westchester County) and Upstate. In each of these three districts, the Megawatt Block Incentive reduces the costs associated with a solar energy system installation. Your incentive rate will depend on in which region you are having your system installed.

2. Is your project residential or nonresidential?

The Megawatt Block Incentive supports both residential and small commercial solar projects in New York State. The amount of the incentive available to you differs depending on whether you will have your system installed on your home or business.

zip code entry solar calculator

3. What ‘Block’ is your region currently in?

Megawatt block structure

Screenshot of the NY-Sun Megawatt Block dashboard illustrating how incentive Blocks ‘fill up’ and then ‘roll over’ into lower rates.

Under Megawatt Block, each district has a set number of subsidy ‘blocks’ which determine the incentive rate. As more people install solar panels, a block will begin to ‘fill up’ towards a predetermined threshold, measured in megawatts of solar panel capacity. Once a threshold is reached, the incentive is reduced for everyone who goes solar after that. This will continue until each block has reached its cap, at which point no more incentives will be available.

You can get a clearer idea of how the program (and of the current incentives) by visiting NY-Sun’s Megawatt Block Dashboard tool.

An example of how the Blocks work: Residential system in Upstate New York

Residential Block 1 for the Upstate region had a cap of 40MW (40,000kW – or about 6,500 residential systems) and the incentive rate was $1 per watt ($1/W) – a discount of $1 for every watt of solar capacity installed (or $6,000 for a 6kW system). Lots of people installed solar, and this block reached its cap in September of 2014 (just 9 months after the Megawatt Block Incentive was introduced). The incentive then moved on to Block 2, which had a 15MW cap (about 2,500 residential systems) and offered an incentive of $0.90/W. As of January 2017, the incentive is in Block 7, and the current rate is $0.40/W with a cap of 85 MW. Review the Megawatt Block Dashboard for the most current information about your region.

Megawatt Block 1 ConEdMegawatt Block 2 ConEd

The size of your solar system determines your final discount

Once you’ve determined the current $/W incentive that applies to you, you can now determine the amount of your discount – as long as you know the size of the system you are going to choose. For example, if the current incentive rate for you is $0.70/W and you have decided on a 6kW solar system (6,000W) your discount will be $4,200. If you have chosen a 10kW system, your discount will be $7,000.

Megawatt Block Solar Incentive rates: Now and future

Incentive rates under the Megawatt Block system are designed to decrease as more people go solar. The table below shows the current Block incentives available for a 6kW solar system versus what they will at the end of the program.

Incentives available for a 6kW solar system under NY Megawatt Block Incentive
ResidentialSmall non-residential
RegionNowEnd of programNowEnd of program
Con Edison Region$2,400$1,200$4,200$900
Upstate Region$2,400$1,200$2,400$900
Long Island RegionNo incentive – capacity reached$1,200$1,500$900

(These values are current as of February 27, 2017.)

New York’s Megawatt Block Solar Incentive is a good example of why you shouldn’t put off going solar to wait for technology to improve and prices to come down. Even as rooftop solar becomes more affordable and components become more efficient and durable, incentives are being scaled back to match. (You can read more on this topic in our article, “Is now the right time to buy a solar panel system or should I wait?“)

How to claim your subsidy

The great thing about the Megawatt Block Incentive is that you do not need to do anything to claim it – your solar installer will apply it to the total price of your solar energy system. You should be able to see it itemized in any quotes that you receive from installers. This is a good thing to keep in mind when you are comparing offers from different solar installation companies.

The Megawatt Block Incentive and solar quality control

The Megawatt Block Incentive also acts as a default quality control mechanism for solar installations: Only installation companies that have met NY state’s certification criteria can pass the Megawatt Block Incentive through to you. Read more about these requirements on New York’s NY-Sun website.

Why is the Megawatt Block Incentive great for NY’s solar shoppers?

The Megawatt Block Incentive is a boon to New York State residents considering solar power for a number of reasons:

  • It is a generous incentive that requires no effort or paperwork for you (the customer) to claim it.
  • It ensures that solar energy system prices come down gradually and without any dramatic fluctuations – so that there is always a good reason to go solar but never pressure to rush to beat a cutoff deadline.
  • Because only installers who are certified under the state’s criteria can apply for the incentive, it works as an indirect quality control measure for the solar industry. Only qualified installers are able to offer you the incentive.

New York’s incentives mean big discounts on solar power

The Megawatt Block Incentive only one of New York’s suite of generous solar incentives, including the state’s Solar Tax Credit, which alone could reduce your tax bill by up to $5,000.

In total, the various incentives available could reduce the cost of going solar in New York by more than 50%. So why not start shopping for solar today? EnergySage’s New York Solar Marketplace is a great place to start comparing your options.

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