NYSERDA Announces Solar Guidebook Available for Municipalities to Provide Help and Encourage Solar Growth in Communities

Comprehensive guidebook for local officials provides information about solar permitting, inspection, property taxes and land leases

October 11, 2016

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has developed a comprehensive guidebook to help municipalities and officials make decisions related to adopting solar in their communities and to help residents. It includes information about solar project permitting, inspection, property taxes and land leases.

NYSERDA developed the NY-Sun Solar Guidebook for Local Governments based on questions and feedback from local government officials. By making it easier for municipal governments to incorporate solar into local permitting, the guide supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy to build a clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers and the Clean Energy Standard commitment that 50 percent of New York State's electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

NYSERDA's NY-Sun team will hold a webinar for local government officials to discuss the guidebook on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 11 a.m. To register, visit Solar Guidebook webinar.

"Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, solar power is increasing rapidly in New York State and supports the Clean Energy Standard mandate that 50 percent of electricity used here come from renewable resources by 2030," said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. "As municipal officials integrate solar projects into local processes, the guide will help answer many of their questions and will smooth the way for continued growth of this valuable resource."

The guidebook is an informational document that includes updates to the NYS Unified Solar Permit and guidance on the New York State fire code, along with other practical information to help local officials. The guide includes:

  • For permitting departments and building inspectors: Need-to-know facts and tools to implement best practices for solar permitting and inspection, including: Understanding Solar PV Permitting and Inspecting in New York State, revised New York State Unified Solar Permit, and Understanding the Roof Top Access and Ventilation Requirements as described in Section R324 of the 2015 International Residential Code.
  • For city, town and village boards: What to consider regarding property taxes and decommissioning for solar projects, including Understanding New York State's Real Property Tax Law Section 487, and Decommissioning Solar Panel Systems.
  • For any municipal employee or official: How to answer the agricultural community's questions about leasing land for solar projects, including Landowner Considerations for Solar Land Leases.

Peter A. Baynes, Executive Director of the New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), said, "The Solar Guidebook will serve as an important resource for city and village officials striving to make their communities fully sustainable. NYCOM appreciates NYSERDA's efforts to assist municipal governments in properly adopting solar in their communities."

Gerry Geist, Executive Director, Association of Towns of the State of New York, said, "We support every effort town officials take to make informed and considered decisions. The solar industry in New York is rapidly expanding, but the long-term issues are difficult to predict. Written with input from local officials, this Guidebook should be an asset for municipalities that are evaluating local solar projects."

Local governments that adopt the Unified Solar Permit are eligible for up to $5,000 through NYSERDA's Streamlined Permitting PV incentive to implement the new procedures.

For additional information and guidance about adopting solar in local communities, local officials can contact the NY-Sun PV Trainers Network, a group composed of experts who can help identify opportunities, mitigate barriers, and provide training, education and technical assistance to local governments.

New York State is undertaking significant changes in the way it generates and delivers energy. The NY-SUN Solar Guidebook for Local Governments is part of a comprehensive effort to grow installed solar through NY-Sun, Governor Cuomo's $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the state closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry.

Solar in New York State has increased 575 percent between 2012 and 2015, and the State now ranks fourth in the number of people employed in the solar industry and fifth in total annual solar installations, up from ninth in 2013.

About Reforming the Energy Vision

Reforming the Energy Vision is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York's economy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency and generating 50 percent of the state's electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030. Already, REV has driven 600 percent growth in the statewide solar market, enabled over 105,000 low-income households to permanently cut their energy bills with energy efficiency, and created thousands of jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and other clean tech sectors. REV is ensuring New York State reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor's $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, please visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow us at @Rev4NY.


NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit nyserda.ny.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.

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