Bring on winter: Solar electricity keeps NY heating costs down

Bring on winter: Solar electricity keeps NY heating costs downMany New Yorkers are bracing for a repeat of last year’s brutal winter weather. Not only is the bitter cold unwelcome; so is the increase in heating and electric bills that the state experienced along with the frigid winter. Many New Yorkers took advantage of the spring and summer seasons to reduce their electricity costs year round by installing solar photovoltaic (PV) electric generating systems on their homes and businesses. For them, Winter 2016 may be cold, but it won’t be anywhere near as expensive as last year.

There’s still plenty of time to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system for your home or business before the snow arrives. New Yorkers have several options for accessing PV electricity, from buying just the power to owning (and enjoying) the entire PV system from panel to meter.

Buy just the power with a Power Purchase Agreement

RGS Energy’s Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) offers the easiest way to access solar electricity, and qualified homeowners can have the service installed with no up-front costs. Known as a “third party provider” system, RGS owns the PV equipment then installs and connects it to the local utility system. The PV system produces the electricity you use, and you pay RGS a low fixed price for that supply. There are many benefits that come with a PPA:

  • The rate per kilowatt hour (kWh) can be locked in for as long as 20 years.
  • There is a 20-year performance guarantee.
  • System insurance is free.
  • Maintenance is free.
  • Monitoring is free.
  • Repairs are free.
  • Inverter replacements are free.

Free is a very good price for all that peace of mind.

Purchase the system with great incentives and financing terms

Incentives: The Federal government offers a 30 percent Incentive Tax Credit for purchasing and installing a solar energy system. The state of New York offers a personal tax credit for 25 percent of the cost of PV equipment, up to $5,000. And the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers a rebate of 70 cents per watt up to 40 percent of the cost of purchasing the equipment, after tax credits.

Financing Options: Solar installations are highly valued, so many lenders offer special terms and finance rates. “Community Solar NY” is a program designed to encourage solar investments while reducing the costs to do it. Low-interest loans are available for multifamily units, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations through “Green Jobs – Green New York.

Of course, paying for your system in cash is acceptable. Doing so eliminates interest altogether, and the savings from reduced electricity costs start the moment the system is turned on.

After the purchase, earn through net metering

Also called “distributed generation,” the meter on a net metered system runs forward when the system is drawing grid power and backward when it is consuming PV power. Subtracting the value of the PV power from the value of the grid power determines the cost of electricity for that month. Excess PV-produced electricity is fed back into the grid system to be used by other utility customers and is reflected as a credit on your monthly bill. At the end of the year, PV system owners are reimbursed by the participating utility for that excess electricity at an “avoided cost” rate.

Winter is coming. While there’s no way to know what temperatures New Yorkers will face this year, if you have a PV electricity system on your home you won’t have to face high electricity bills at the same time.

New York is among the states where RGS Energy provides solar energy system installation. To find out how solar energy could power your home, visit

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