Top Solar Incentives for Orange County, NY Homeowners

When it comes to going solar, New York is a great place to live. The state has excellent legislative support for making the switch and offers great solar incentives for Orange County, NY residents.

From rebate programs to solar tax credits and exemptions, going solar in New York is a sure way to save money while helping the environment. Here’s a look at the top solar incentives for Orange County, NY so you can begin to calculate your savings once you make the switch.

NYSERDA Cash Rebates

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers rebates to homeowners who install solar panels. The goal is to support 3.175 gigawatts of solar panel installations across the state by the time the program expires in 2023.

  • Qualifications: Most residential installations qualify. Your array must simply be 25 kilowatts (kW) or less, remain grid-tied, be installed by a pre-approved contractor and comply with all standards and safety codes. You may even qualify for double the rebate based on a new rule passed in October, 2015. This rule states that any New York resident who earns 80% or less of their county’s median income may qualify for the Affordable Solar program. This means a family of four living in Orange County with an income of less than $69,360 could qualify.
  • How the incentive lowers costs: The NYSERDA’s budget for this program is $762 million, much of which has already been paid out. Rates should remain at $0.70 per watt through the end of 2015, which equals $3,500 for a typical 5kW solar array. For anyone who qualifies for the Affordable Solar program, this figure jumps to $1.40 per watt, or $7,000 for a typical solar panel installation! As the expiration date nears and funds are depleted, rebate rates will drop. This means the sooner you act, the higher your solar incentives for Orange County, NY.

Federal Tax Credits for Solar Energy

Federal solar tax credits are available for every qualifying installation across the country. They expire December 31, 2016, so now is the time to act.

  • Qualifications: Existing homes and new construction both qualify for federal solar tax credits. You can also claim the incentive whether you install solar panels on your principle residence or a secondary vacation home. Rental properties do not qualify.
  • How the incentive lowers costs: Federal tax credits are some of the most lucrative solar incentives for Orange County, NY. They cover 30% of the cost, including installation, with no upper limit. Remember, any NYSERDA rebates you qualify for are subtracted from the total cost before tax credits are applied.

New York State Solar Tax Credits

The next incentive is another sizable way to offset the cost of installing solar panels: state solar tax credits. Only select states offer such an incentive, and you’ll be glad to learn that New York is among them. Plus, there’s currently no expiration date for this tax credit, so you can count on claiming it no matter when you decide to go solar.

  • Qualifications: Your installation qualifies for these solar incentives for Orange County, NY if it’s grid tied, net metered and under 25kW. You also need to purchase your panels outright, lease them or buy them through a purchase power agreement (PPA). Most residential applications easily meet these qualifications.
  • How the incentive lowers costs: New York offers one of the most generous solar tax credits equaling 25% of the total purchase and installation cost with a cap of $5,000. Remember, any NYSERDA rebates you qualify for are subtracted from the total cost before tax credits are applied.

Sales Tax Exemption

Every state decides how to handle sales tax on solar panel purchases. Some states lower the rate to make the purchase more affordable. New York takes this concept one step further by offering a 100% sales tax exemption on solar panel purchases.

  • Qualifications: Both residential and non-residential systems qualify for this exemption. The only types of installations that don’t qualify are those used for residential recreational facilities, such as backyard pools. However, solar panels used for heating commercial pools do qualify.
  • How the incentive lowers costs: When you’re looking at a $25,000 solar panel purchase, New York’s 4% sales tax adds on another $1,000 to the purchase. With this exemption, that money goes back in your pocket.

Property Tax Exemption

Lawmakers in each state decide just how much they want to ease the switch to solar for residents in their area. Thankfully, New York lawmakers took an important step to facilitate your switch to solar: they eliminated property tax increases that would normally follow a solar installation.

  • Qualifications: A variety of energy conservation improvements qualify for a property tax exemption, including solar water heaters, wind power, biomass energy and geothermal heat pumps. All you need to qualify is to live in a single-family to four-family residence and have one of these improvements installed.
  • How the incentive lowers costs: The average solar installation adds 20 times your annual electricity bill to the value of your home, or about $20,000. Normally, this kind of upgrade would increase property taxes. Fortunately, thanks to this exemption, you are not required to pay increased taxes to the extent that the addition would increase the value of your home. This benefit lasts for 15 years.

Net Metering

When you install a solar array, the goal is to meet your home’s electricity needs as closely as possible. However, because of fluctuating energy production and consumption, it’s rare for these figures to match perfectly every month.

When your solar panels don’t produce quite enough electricity, remaining grid-tied ensures your home still gets the power it needs. When your solar panels produce excess energy, net metering is a way for you to sell this energy back to the utility company. This benefits you as well as your provider, since it’s a way for the utility to offer other customers electricity generated from a clean source.

  • Qualifications: As long as your solar installation is less than 25kW and remains tied to the grid, you have the chance to take advantage of net metering. Other renewable energy sources also qualify, including solar, wind, fuel cells and micro turbines.
  • How the incentive lowers costs: Without net metering (or a battery to store energy), excess electricity would go to waste. This incentive helps keep utility costs down in one of two ways: either you are granted a credit on next month’s energy bill or excess electricity is reconciled annually at the current retail rate. If you opt for the annual reconciliation option, you can choose to have the pay period end at the height of summer so you cash out when electricity is sold at its highest rate.

Thanks to solar incentives for Orange County, NY including rebates, tax credits and exemptions, you can cut your initial investment down by more than half! Not to mention, you get to enjoy great savings over the life of your solar panels with property tax exemptions and net metering. All this comes on top of the savings you already enjoy from switching to solar!

What are you waiting for? Now is the time to make your dream of going solar a reality.

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