Why Solar Energy Works in New York
New York has become one of the most progressive states in the country when it comes to creating and abiding by standards to encourage the adoption of renewable energy, in particular solar energy. Most recently, the state Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the New York Clean Energy Standard. Click on the link to read in more detail about the program.
Overall, the nation has made progress in reducing carbon emissions in total from the electricity marketplace. Already New York and other New England states are ahead of many others in the country in the de-carbonizing of their respective power sectors. For example, as noted in the linked post, the vast majority of Connecticut electricity comes from natural gas and nuclear facilities. Efforts to further reduce all emissions, and carbon in particular will come at a cost.
As with any large and sweeping legislation and policies, there is good news and bad news for ratepayers in the state. The policy achieves some significant objectives, especially in setting and meeting carbon emissions levels. The policy has become known as the “50 by 30” program, where the requirement is that 50 percent of the state’s electricity must come from clean, renewable sources like solar and wind power by 2030. Hydropower is also included in the mix.
New York Electricity is Expensive
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) maintains a range of energy statistics. As recently as May of 2016, they reported that New York ranks as the seventh most expensive state for average electricity costs for all buyers, residential and commercial. New Yorkers may be the most efficient energy consumers, using the least electricity per capita of any state. That still means that a homeowner in an average sized home in Westchester will likely pay over $150 per month to their utility. That’s an average across the hottest and coldest seasons, suggesting that many homeowners are facing around $2,000 to power their homes.
Click on the image for more detail.
Is there good news? Perhaps. Looking at the states with more expensive costs, many are neighbors to New York in New England. New York and New Yorkers manage to keep their total energy expenses low for the region.
The Clean Energy Standard May Raise Energy Costs
While the policy is noble, one thing is usually unavoidable where large scale programs and utilities are involved. Someone has to foot the bill. The ratepayer almost always is required to cover a portion or all of a range of expenses.
But it wouldn’t be fair to blame the rising costs solely on the mandated increases in low carbon and carbon free sources. The infrastructure to generate at high voltages and transmit electricity throughout the state and region is expensive, too. As noted here in this article, utilities and grid operators have begun to lay the groundwork for new transmission systems and upgrades to existing systems. Some things to consider:
Of the 11,000 miles of transmission lines in New York, 80 percent were built before 1980, according to the New York Independent System Operator.
Typically utilities cite public policy requirements in their rate requests to the PSC. The Clean Energy Standard is only one policy that may impact infrastructure costs. After all, just as it is with large fuel burning facilities, the better or best locations for large renewable farms are often farthest from the highest demand – the downstate New York City area.
Already the PSC has allowed some increases in the past due to clean energy policies. Most residential ratepayers have seen approximately $5 in surcharges to help cover costs.
What should concern most homeowners is the existing requests for grid improvements and the uncertainty around the costs for the noble Clean Energy Standard. While New York has experienced slight electricity cost decreases, they are VERY rare and not likely to continue.
New York Ideal for Solar Energy
So now the good news!
The best way to avoid the steady increase in your family’s energy expenses is to become as self-reliant as you can. Solar energy systems for homeowners have become a very practical investment in New York. The reasons are simple:
The state has made it a priority to help an increasing number of homes and businesses to install solar panels and offset significant portions of their utility bills. To learn more about the current incentives and programs, visit our state page.
The competitive solar energy market has worked more in favor of the buyer than the solar energy system installer. For example, since 2010, the cost of solar panels themselves has dropped nearly 50% in the state. That is a significant decrease.
Thanks to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), New York Power Authority (NYPA) and City University of New York (CUNY) a Unified Solar Permit is available for any town or community. It makes the state a leader in speedy approval and installation. Depending on your location, the process to connect to the local grid is optimized as well. Most towns have streamlined this process whether or not they adopted the program.
Most encouraging to us at Ross Solar is the comparative value homeowners and businesses in Westchester, Dutchess, and Putnam counties have received over the last few years once they installed a solar energy system. A quick scan of data provided by NYSERDA shows that over the last two full years, installed solar energy systems in this area have been some of the lowest priced per kW in the entire state. Looking at some key points:
New York City and Long Island homeowners paid more for their solar power than any other area.
A few upstate regions like Buffalo and Watertown paid the least per kW for solar power.
But Westchester, Dutchess, and Putnam were a relative bargain! On average, homeowners paid 15% to 20% less than New York City and Long Island. In addition, the installed solar energy system costs were on par with the Albany area and slightly less than neighboring Orange or Rockland.
What does this mean? Within the New York City area, our Westchester customers can get the best deals on solar energy. Homeowners not only enjoy lower prices comparable to the upstate, but they will find even better payback or returns on their investment for the region. This proves it is even more practical to cut dependence on state policies and utility rate practices.
And beyond the savings, realize also that solar energy has a proven positive impact on the value of your home.
At Ross Solar, we know we MUST be competitive in the Westchester and Putnam areas. Our primary goal is to ensure every customer gets the best value and the longest satisfaction from their investment. We invite you to explore how solar might benefit you. Please click on the FREE Analysis tab on the right or Contact Us here. We will answer all questions with no pressure.