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Frequently Asked Questions

This document has been prepared to offer a list of the most common questions we have received about our Green Energy services. We trust that you will find this useful. Should you have any further questions, or suggestions or resources for this section, please do not hesitate to email them to us.


Can I get a 30 percent tax break of up to $1,500?

Yes, You can get a 30 percent tax break with no dollar limit for alternative energy equipment like solar water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and small wind turbines. Who says you can’t get a break when buying green? The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act may give you the break you’re looking for – tax credits for certain energy efficient home improvements.


What is Solar Thermal?

Solar Thermal is a technology that uses the sun’s energy to heat water. It is not the same as photovoltaics (PV), which uses the sunlight to create electricity. With proper location, an ST system works anytime the sun is shining. The amount of heat produced is directly related to the amount and intensity of sun that a site receives. Although a Solar Thermal System cannot produce 100% of the hot water needs of a home all year round, it can save money on heating domestic hot water and reduce your carbon footprint.


What NYSERDA Incentives are Available for an ST System?


NYSERDA provides incentives for the installation of new Solar Thermal systems for the production of hot water displacing electrically-heated hot water. System incentives are capped at $4,000 for residential systems and $25,000 for nonresidential applicants.


How Much Does a Solar Thermal System Cost and What are the Benefits?

A two panel ST system will save about 2,800 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. A typical New York state residential home uses about 3,500 kilowatt hours annually to heat hot water. An approximate installed cost for a typical two panel ST system for a home is $9,500–$11,000 before incentives.

NYSERDA’s ST Incentive Program and potential tax credits* can significantly reduce the same system to approximately $2,925–$4,000.

*You may qualify for up to 30% federal and 25% (up to $5,000) of New York State tax credits for your primary residence. (Always consult with your qualified tax professional or accountant to determine your eligibility for tax credits.).


Are there available incentives from the State of New York?

Enacted in August 1997, this personal income tax credit originally applied to expenditures on solar-electric (PV) equipment used on residential property. The credit, equal to 25% percent of the cost of equipment and installation, was expanded in August 2005 to include solar-thermal equipment. The solar-thermal provisions apply to taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2006. The credit is capped at $3,750 for solar-energy systems placed in service before September 1, 2006, and capped at $5,000 for solar-energy systems placed in service on or after September 1, 2006.

In August 2012 the credit was amended yet again (A.B. 34) to allow it to be claimed for systems installed under lease or power purchase agreements (PPAs) of at least 10 years in length. For third-party owned systems, the residential homeowner may claim a tax credit in the amount of lease or PPA payments made during the taxable year, for up to 15 years. The 25% incentive for such systems refers to aggregate amount of payments owed rather than the amount made during any single year. The maximum allowable tax credit amount of $5,000 applies to the total amount of credits claimed regardless of the ownership arrangement. The new law has an effective date of August 17, 2012. It is unclear at this time whether tax credit claims for third-party owned systems will be permitted for installations made prior to this date..

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