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Many would not believe it, but New York State, particularly Upstate, is a hotbed of Solar Energy. In fact, because of the extremely high electric prices across New York, it is more cost effective to have a Solar Panel System in New York than it is Southern California (even with cloudy weather and cold, long winters taken into account).A recent study published in Home Power Magazine showed that a homeowner in the Capital Region of New York (the Albany Area) can save over $100 a year more than a homeowner in Southern California by installing similar Solar Panel Systems that produce the same amount of electricity.
This seems contrary to the popular belief that many people cling to when discussing (and dismissing) Solar Panel Systems in New York State.
Most people believe, and will tell you that Solar Panel Systems do not work in New York because there is not enough sun – the winters are too long and cold – or any host of hundreds of other reasons. But, the truth is, these people could not be further from the truth.The reality is that Solar Energy is viable, cost-effective, and thriving in New York State for one simple, and important reason – the cost of electricity.
The Cost Of Electricity In New York
On average, over the last decade, the price of electricity in NYS has increased by about 3% every year. This is a significant increase, especially in a state with the third or fourth highest (depending on the year) electric prices in the country (well above the national average).
The table and chart below show the electric price in NY from 2003 - 2013, as well as projections into the future based on this average 3% annual increase.
* Prices in $/kWh. Grey text denotes a future projection.
If these annual price increases continue at their current average rate, you could be paying over $0.22 per kWh for your electricity by 2019. With stagnant wages across most of New York (and the nation), this increased cost of electricity will take a larger and larger chunk of your budget every year.
How high can your electric bill get before it becomes unaffordable, or forces you to eliminate other parts of your household budget just to cover it?
How Much Could You Spend On Electricity Over The Next 25 Years?
Assumptions for the table:
- Year 1 $/kWh: $ 0.188
- Annual Price Increase: 2.9%
- Annual Electric Usage: 8,900kWh (national average)
|1||$ 139.73||$ 1,676.76||$ 1,676.76|
|2||$ 143.78||$ 1,725.39||$ 3,402.14|
|3||$ 147.95||$ 1,775.42||$ 5,177.57|
|4||$ 152.24||$ 1,826.91||$ 7,004.48|
|5||$ 156.66||$ 1,879.89||$ 8,884.37|
|6||$ 161.20||$ 1,934.41||$ 10,818.77|
|7||$ 165.88||$ 1,990.50||$ 12,809.28|
|8||$ 170.69||$ 2,048.238||$ 14,857.51|
|9||$ 175.64||$ 2,107.63||$ 16,965.14|
|10||$ 180.73||$ 2,168.75||$ 19,133.88|
|11||$ 185.97||$ 2,231.64||$ 21,365.53|
|12||$ 191.36||$ 2,296.36||$ 23,661.89|
|13||$ 196.91||$ 2,362.95||$ 26,024.84|
|14||$ 202.62||$ 2,431.48||$ 28,456.32|
|15||$ 208.50||$ 2,501.99||$ 30,958.32|
|16||$ 214.55||$ 2,574.55||$ 33,532.87|
|17||$ 220.77||$ 2,649.21||$ 36,182.08|
|18||$ 227.17||$ 2,726.04||$ 38,908.12|
|19||$ 233.76||$ 2,805.10||$ 41,713.22|
|20||$ 240.54||$ 2,886.44||$ 44,599.66|
|21||$ 247.51||$ 2,970.15||$ 47,569.81|
|22||$ 254.69||$ 3,056.28||$ 50,626.09|
|23||$ 262.08||$ 3,144.92||$ 53,771.01|
|24||$ 269.68||$ 3,236.12||$ 57,007.13|
|25||$ 277.50||$ 3,329.97||$ 60,337.10|
As you can see, if the average price increase continues and you do not increase your electric usage, you could spend over $62,000 on just electricity over the next 25 years. In that time your electric bill could increase to over $287 per month.
The graphs below show the table data in graphical form.
What Financial Incentives Are Available For New Yorkers Who Get Solar?
To help pay for their Solar Panel System, New York Residents can take advantage of several Federal and State incentives and tax credits, which are designed to save hundreds or thousands of dollars, shorten the payback period of the Solar Panel System, and increase the lifetime ROI (return on investment).
Here are the current solar energy incentives and credits that are available on solar panel systems installed in New York State.
|Agency||Incentive Type||Incentive Amount||Max Incentive|
|US Government||Tax Credit||30%||No Max|
|NY Government||Tax Credit||25%||$ 5,000|
|NYSERDA||Rebate||$ 1.00 / Watt||$ 25,000|
Grid Tie Vs Off Grid Solar Panel Systems
Grid Tie Solar Panel Systems
Solar panel systems that are tied directly into the electric utility grid (your traditional source of electricity). This connection is a two way road that has many benefits to you, the owner. First, with a Grid-Tie Solar Panel System you have a 100% reliable backup power source. At night, and on cloudy days, your Solar Panel System will not be generating power, but you will still be consuming it – a Grid-Tie Solar Panel System allows you to use regular grid electricity to supplement your power needs and ensure that you are never without electricity.
Also, New York State offers Net Metering Laws, which require the electric company to purchase any excess electricity produced by your Solar Panel System from you at the same retail price you pay for their electricity. This essentially spins your electric meter backwards – and a properly sized system can take advantage of Net Metering to pay for itself in fewer years than other Solar Panel Systems.
Another great advantage of a Grid-Tie Solar Panel System is that you do not need to size the system to produce all of your electric needs – your Grid-Tie Solar Panel System can be sized produce any amount of your electric needs – from 1% up to 100% – and with a Grid-Tie Solar Panel System, expensive battery backups and charge controllers are optional, not required.
Typical Grid Tie Solar Panel System Layout
Off Grid Solar Panel Systems
have one major advantage over Grid-Tie Solar Panel Systems – they are completely standalone and not connected to the electric utility grid. This is extremely important to clients who are looking to be completely self-sustained. However, because of this very reason, there are a few major detractions of Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems.
- You must size an Off-Grid Solar Panel System to produce 100% of your electrical needs (including a backup supply for cloudy days and bad weather)
- Off-Grid Solar panel Systems must include an expensive battery backup
- Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems must have a separate backup power source such as a generator
- Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems can not take advantage of Net Metering to provide additional payback and return on investment
For these reasons, Silicon Solar recommends that our New York Customers use Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems only for remote locations such as cabins and lodges, or on homes that are completely energy efficient and optimized in order to limit initial costs and system size.
Typical Off Grid Solar Panel System Layout
Example NY Grid Tie Solar Panel System Cost & Savings
System & Electricity Use Assumptions
- Electric Use per Month: 742kWh (national average)
- Current Price of Electricity: $ 0.18 per kWh
- Current Monthly Electric Bill: $ 139.73
- Electric Offset From Solar: 100%
|Size||Price Before Incentives||Total State & Federal Incentives||Net System Cost After Incentives|
|9.5 kW||$ 42,676.38||$ 12,802.91||$ 29,873.47|
Financial Savings Details
|Current Annual Electric Cost||Annual Savings With Solar||20 Year Electric Cost Savings||20 Year Positive Cash Flow|
|$ 1,602.00||$ 2,602.00||$ 52,995.47||$ 23,122.00|