Long Island, NY Implements a FIT Program; One Among Numerous Incentives to Go Solar

feed in tariffsLong Island, New York, implemented a solar feed-in tariff (FIT) this summer and in doing so will help with Governor Cuomo’s call for New York State to use quadruple the amount of on-site solar by the year 2013.  By 2015, the Renewable Portfolio Standard for the state requires that 30% of the state’s power be renewable energy.  This new FIT program is expected to make an impact toward moving the environmentally friendly goals to fulfillment. This pilot feed-in tariff is referred to as the CLEAN Solar Initiative.  Since July 1st of this year, Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) has offered people in Long Island with solar installations of certain sizes a 20-year fixed rate of 22 cents for each kilowatt hour.  CLEAN continues through next year.  How will the program be funded?  The answer is:  Partially by adding a 45-cent charge on LIPA’s customer utility bills. These power purchase agreements are available for mid-sized to large solar systems – between 50 kilowatts (kW) and 500 kW.  The cap on the program is 50 megawatts.   LIPA will make a decision about whether to continue, make changes, or expand the FIT initiative when the cap is reached or on June 30, 2014, whichever comes first.There are only about 12 jurisdictions in the United States which have FIT programs; so this is an exciting development in the progress of clean energy. Many of Long Island’s towns are streamlining the permitting process for solar installations by adopting a “Unified Solar Permitting Initiative.”  The benefit of this initiative is that it offsets much of the delay, confusion, and cost of installing solar PV that is somewhat typical due to varied regulations from one city to the next.

feed-in tariff

The new NY feed-in tariff program provides an additional incentive for solar energy usage.

Long Island residents who get in on the FIT program are eligible to also receive any state and federal tax grants or incentives which can be used to either finance the system or reduce the cost of the system.  They will need to follow the rules that are in place to take advantage of these financial incentives, which include grants, tax credits, accelerated depreciation, and other possibilities.  An exception is that LIPA-funded incentives or grants may not be used in conjunction with the feed-in tariff program.

New York is currently sponsoring several solar initiatives, in addition to the new FIT program.  Among them are the three bills recently signed by Governor Cuomo which provide solar incentives.

• One bill provides tax credits to New York residents who install solar energy equipment.
• A second bill directs incentives at tax abatement for solar energy systems installed in cities with populations of over 1 million.
• A third bill grants a state sales exemption on the sale and installation of commercial solar systems and permits municipalities to extend an exemption, as well.

New York is 6th, as far as the number of solar PV systems installed; almost 7,500 solar installations have been completed in the state.  The systems have the combined capacity to produce 121 megawatts of solar energy, which is enough to provide power for approximately 20,000 homes of average size.

While it’s true that the new FIT program requires solar systems to be of a minimum size that’s too large for individual homes, something everyone can celebrate is the green impact the program has and that it moves New York in the right direction toward cleaner energy.  And more good news is that there are incentives available which do benefit homeowners and equip them to go green while at the same time reducing energy costs.

To find out how you can benefit from the Long Island FIT program and to learn more about Long Island, NY solar incentives and installation, visit the NASS member Solar Store at Bohemia, NY located on Long Island.

If you are in Upstate New York and are interested in other NY solar incentives and installation, visit the NASS member Solar Store at Lake Champlain, NY located in Plattsburgh, NY.

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