NOTE: The incentive amounts for the program was updated effective July 17, 2015. Applications are being received until December 15, 2015 or, until the funds are exhausted.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers incentives for the installation of solar water heating systems for residential, commercial, agricultural, governmental, and not-for-profit institutional customers of the state's major investor-owned utilities. The program is part of the Customer-Sited Tier (CST) of the state renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The program is open to customers of investor owned utilities including: Central Hudson Gas & Electric, National Grid, Orange and Rockland Utilities and Rochester Gas and Electric.
The systems must generally supplement an electric water heater in order to qualify for the program. Both existing buildings and new construction are eligible for incentives. Otherwise eligible customers that use a fossil fuel (propane, natural gas, or oil) for water heating may be eligible for a small amount of non-RPS funding (contact NYSERDA for details and information on funding availability).
Incentives are based on the amount of electricity displaced by the solar water heating system. The incentive is set at $1.25 per annual kilowatt-hour (kWh) displaced, up to $6,000 for residential systems. Commercial customers receive $0.55 per kWh displaced, and agricultural/not-for-profit/goverment customers receive $0.65 per kWh displaced.
Though no specific limits on system size are identified, incentives are only available for the amount of displaced kWh that does not exceed 80% of calculated existing thermal load. Systems that displace higher percentages of thermal load may be eligible for funding, but the incentive would be capped at the 80% displacement level. The value for kWh displaced is based on the SRCC OG-300 estimate of system production and/or standard industry software such as RETScreen, or SolarPathfinder thermal program. The installer must analyze each system for energy production losses associated with shading, system orientation, tilt, etc. and provide this information to NYSERDA with the application. Incentive levels may be revised every two months based on program demand and market conditions. The incentives are paid directly to installers which is directly passed to the customers.
A total of $7.4 million is available for incentives through December 31, 2015, funded from the RPS surcharge on customer electricity bills. Please see Program Opportunity Notice 2149 (PON 2149), listed as the program web site at the top of this page, for further information on the program.
Installers of eligible systems must be pre-approved by NYSERDA. To become an eligible installer, an installer must have one of the three credentialing requirements- i. must be certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), or ii. must have completed and approved NYS DOL Apprenticeship program, or iii. complete Solar Thermal manufacturer's training. In addition to the installer requirements, there are also a variety of equipment requirements for eligible systems. Interested companies can apply anytime to participate in the program.
Participants also have the option of financing solar thermal systems through the Green Jobs/Green New York (GJGNY) financing program. Loans for solar thermal equipment are made available through NY-Sun Loan program, which had been initially designed for solar PV systems. Starting from October 17, 2014, solar thermal systems also qualify for financing through the program. This program offers low interest loans to both residential and non-residential customers. Participants can choose between either On-Bill financing or Smart Energy Loan. Small business and not-for-profit customers may also be eligible for financing under Green Job Green NY (PON 2293) program.