Long Island exhausts NY-Sun residential solar block grants

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Yesterday the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) announced that Long Island had exhausted its funding for residential installations through the NY-Sun program.

With 139 MW of residential solar installed in four blocks of the program, Long Island is the first market to achieve NY-Sun goals. Under NY-Sun NYSERDA makes grants available for residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) installations in multiple regions of the state, with three separate tranches for residential, small C&I and C&I installations over 200 kW.

Long Island’s first residential incentive block of US$0.50 per watt opened on January 1, 2104, and after two intermediary blocks the final incentive block of $0.20 per watt opened on April 24, 2015.

Long Island homeowners who install solar PV will continue to receive the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit, state tax credits, financing assistance for underserved communities, and other assistance, including the ability to participate in the Solarize Hempstead and Solarize Southampton campaigns.

Additionally, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) board has approved community net metering, a form of virtual net metering, and NYSERDA reports that it expects PSEG Long Island to implement on-bill financing this summer.

While still behind Long Island, New York City and Westchester are also reporting progress with solar. ConEdison, which serves both areas, reports that New York City and Westchester County have reached a total of 105.4 MW of installed PV to date, including both residential and C&I of all scales.

However, nearly 1/3 of this is affluent Westchester, and another 1/4 is in Staten Island, with less than 45 MW installed in four boroughs of New York City: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Manhattan, despite being home to over 1.6 million inhabitants, hosts a tiny 2.5 MW installed.

Many roofs in the densely populated city are unsuitable for solar due to shading issues, but additionally the Fire Department of City of New York requires a roughly two-meter setback around the edge of PV installations on residential buildings, far more than is required in other cities.

?Additionally, installers who pv magazine spoke with are reporting significant problems navigating the bureaucracy at the city’s Department of Buildings.

As a result, residential installations are only on the fifth of nine NY-Sun blocks in ConEdison’s service area, with around 250 MW still eligible for grants. By comparison, the Upstate region has reached the seventh of nine blocks.

The difference in progress with large C&I is even more stark. ConEdison’s service area is still on the first NY-Sun block, whereas the rest of the state has reached the third.