Homeowner’s guide to New York’s Megawatt Block solar incentive program

Updated

Homeowner’s guide to New York’s Megawatt Block solar incentive program

New York’s hottest solar incentive is the NY-Sun Megawatt Block Program. It has everything - residential rebates based on solar system size, payments for commercial projects, and even adders for community solar development. Homeowners can earn thousands of dollars through the Megawatt Block program to help reduce the upfront cost of installing solar panels, making it one of the biggest reasons why going solar in New York is such a worthwhile investment.

The Megawatt Block incentives are part of the state’s NY-Sun initiative, a program developed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to make clean energy more accessible to New Yorkers. Aside from providing incentives, NY-Sun also helps with project financing and education and gives resources to local governments to help achieve initiative goals.

For all the good it does, the incentive program can be a little confusing to understand at first. That’s why we’ve broken down everything you need to know about the residential Megawatt Block incentive, including how it works and even better - how much you could save.

Find out how much a solar system will cost for your specific home

New York’s Megawatt Block incentive at a glance:

  • New York state offers homeowners incentives for installing solar panels based on where they live and the amount of solar installed.
  • Homeowners living in Con Edison’s territory can receive an incentive rate of $0.20 per watt of solar installed, which works out to $1,400 for a 7 kW solar system.
  • Those in the Upstate region are eligible for $0.40 per watt installed for a total incentive of $2,800 for a 7 kW system.
  • The Megawatt Block incentive is no longer available for residents of Long Island.
  • New Yorkers can also take advantage of the state solar tax credit and the 30% federal solar tax credit to lower solar installation costs.
  • The best time to go solar in New York is now, before the Con Edison and Upstate Megawatt Block incentive programs fill up.

On this page

    How the Megawatt Block Incentive program works

    The Megawatt Block program provides home and business owners who install solar panels with an incentive based on where they live and the size of the solar panel system, measured in watts. We’re going to focus on the incentives for residential solar projects.

    In order to qualify for the residential incentive, the solar panel system must be installed by a participating NY-Sun contractor and cannot exceed 25 kilowatts (kW) in size. You probably won’t have to worry much about this requirement - the average home solar panel system installed in New York is about 7 kW. The system also cannot be projected to generate more than 110% of your annual electricity usage, but this will be something your installer will consider when designing the system.

    NY-Sun splits the state into three regions, each of which receives a different amount of funding for the Megawatt Block incentives. The regions are:

    On average, the incentive value will be somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000. But remember, the exact incentive you receive will vary based on the size of your system and what region you are in.

    Don’t expect a check! The Megawatt Block incentive is paid directly to the solar installer you choose. However, the contractor must pass the full savings onto the customer by lowering the upfront cost of the solar system.

    How much is the Con Edison Megawatt Block incentive worth?

    People who live in the Con Edison region are currently eligible for a Megawatt Block incentive rate of $0.20 per watt of solar installed. That’s an incentive of $1,400 for a solar panel system that is 7 kW, or 7,000 watts, in size.

    The average cost of solar in New York is about $2.86 per watt, meaning a 7 kW system would cost just over $20,000 before any incentives are considered. Once you take the Megawatt Block payment into account, the total system cost would fall to $18,600.

    The Con Edison incentive won’t be around forever - it’s currently in the last phase of the program. While there is no set expiration date for the program, it instead closes when 270,000 kW of residential solar has been installed in the region. Right now, the program is inching towards the halfway point. If you want to guarantee you have access to the incentive, you should consider switching to solar sooner rather than later.

    How much is the Upstate Megawatt Block incentive worth?

    Homeowners installing solar in the Upstate region can get $0.40 per watt of solar installed through Megawatt Block. For a 7 kW system, the Upstate incentive would be $2,800. The Upstate region is any part of the state that isn’t Long Island, or that isn’t serviced by Con Edison.

    With the incentive, a $20,000 7 kW solar system installed in the Upstate region would cost $17,200.

    Just like with Con Edison, the Upstate incentive is in the last stage of the program and will close once 40,000 kW of residential solar has been installed in the region. Currently, almost 9,000 kW have been installed in this block of the program.

    How much is the Long Island Megawatt Block incentive worth?

    The Long Island Megawatt Block program has completely expired. Solar panel systems installed on Long Island can no longer receive an incentive through the Megawatt Block Program.

    Are there other solar incentives or rebates in New York?

    New Yorkers don’t just qualify for the Megawatt Block incentive program - the state also offers a solar tax credit. The New York state solar tax credit is equal to 25% of your total solar system costs, up to $5,000.

    Plus, homeowners can also take advantage of the federal solar tax credit, which is equal to 30% of the total costs to install your solar panel system and reduces what you owe in federal income taxes.

    Once you take both tax credits and the Megawatt Block incentive into account, a 7 kW solar system will go from costing about $20,000 down to between $7,500 and $9,000 anywhere outside of Long Island.

    Solar equipment is also exempt from sales tax in the Empire State, and solar installations won’t increase your property taxes.

    Is going solar in New York worth it?

    Despite receiving less sunlight than other places in the U.S., New York is one of the best states to go solar because of all the great incentive programs, especially the Megawatt Block program.

    Many solar panel systems in New York will pay for themselves in as little as five years! But, just because that’s the case now, doesn’t mean it always will be. New York is looking to change how it bills solar customers, which could result in lower electricity bill savings in the future. Both the Con Edison and Upstate Megawatt Block regions are in their final stages, meaning their expiration could come in the near future.

    Installing solar panels in New York will never be a better investment than it is right now. Use our state-of-the-art solar panel cost and savings calculator to see what incentives are available in your area and what kind of electricity bill savings you can get when you power your home with clean renewable energy.

    See if going solar is worth it in your area
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Catherine Lane

    SolarReviews Blog Author

    Catherine is a researcher and content specialist at SolarReviews. She has strong interests in issues related to climate and sustainability which led her to pursue a degree in environmental science at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

    Related solar news