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Solar for Multifamily Buildings

 

Solar is more accessible and affordable than ever before, making it easier for multifamily building owners and/or managers to switch their properties to clean energy and save money. Higher incentive funding and technical assistance resources are available to owners and/or managers of regulated affordable housing properties. And if you are a renter looking for ways to save with solar without installing panels, explore signing up for community solar

 

Solar Installation Types

Install solar on your roof or property 

You can install solar on the roof or in the ground on your property. The solar panels would help you meet the building’s energy needs, but your electric utility company would continue to provide energy at night, on cloudy days, or when the building’s energy demand is too high for the solar panels to support.

The monetary savings are distributed depending on whether the building has one electricity meter (often called a master metered building) or multiple meters (for example, separate meters for common areas and tenants). When the solar panels generate more electricity than the building is using, the excess energy is sent back to the grid and is then reflected as bill savings in the form of credits on your electric utility bill. Working with a solar contractor will help you determine how to best install solar so you and your tenants receive the most benefits.

Take advantage of offsite solar 
If installing solar is not viable on your multifamily building’s roof or property, you can access clean energy through community solar or, in some cases, remote crediting. 

Community solar is a large array of solar panels at an offsite location that allows you to access the benefits of solar and save money without installing solar panels. You can subscribe to a community solar project and receive credits on your electric utility bill for the energy produced by the project. Both master meters and individual meters can connect to one community solar project. For more information on community solar, visit NY-Sun's Community Solar for Business page.

Through remote crediting, larger buildings may be able to have an entire offsite solar project dedicated to their energy needs. Working with a solar developer will help you determine whether community solar or remote crediting is best for your building. For more information on remote crediting, visit NY-Sun’s Solar Options page. 

 

Available Incentives

Multifamily building owners and managers can access incentives for solar installations by working with a participating contractor. Incentives are provided directly to your selected contractor and vary throughout the State. Work with a NYSERDA-approved participating contractor to find out if you are eligible for NY-Sun incentives. 

MW Block Program

NY-Sun’s main incentives are structured through the Megawatt (MW) Block Program and the incentive amount depends on the size and location of a project. The incentives are designed to decrease as certain solar markets develop and become self-sustaining. Therefore, it is important to check the MW Block dashboard for real-time incentive rates and availability.

Multifamily Affordable Housing Incentives 

Additional incentives are available for affordable housing. The Multifamily Affordable Housing Adder is available for nonresidential solar installations sited on regulated multifamily affordable housing in the Con Edison, Upstate, and Long Island regions. The Adder can be combined with the MW Block incentive for eligible projects on a first-come first-served basis. Below is an example of how the additional incentive works with NY-Sun’s MW Block incentive:

 

Sample Estimated Incentive

33.5 kW PV System

Regulated Affordable Housing Property

_

$148,306

Total System Cost Before NYSERDA Incentives

$33,500

MW Block Incentive + Multifamily Affordable Housing Adder

(combined $1.00/Watt)

=

$114,806

Total System Cost After NYSERDA Incentives

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions specific to multifamily buildings. To find answers to other common questions related to how solar works, the benefits, how to pay for solar, and so on, visit NY-Sun’s Frequently Asked Questions page. 

Are there any restrictions on the meter type and a community solar project?

Yes. Electricity meters over 25 kW (often called demand-metered accounts) can offtake a maximum of 40% of a community solar project’s generation capacity. Electricity meters below 25 kW (non-demand meters) can offtake their entire demand. This is to ensure that a community solar project is benefiting as many subscribers as possible. Additionally, a community solar project must have at least 10 subscribers (excluding projects sited on master metered multifamily buildings with at least 10 residential units).

Can one building or electricity meter take the entire capacity of a community solar project?

Yes. If a master metered multifamily building has at least 10 residential units, then it may offtake the entire capacity of a community solar project. Alternatively, a multifamily building can subscribe to a remote crediting project and offtake the entire capacity of that project, regardless of the buildings size. Remote crediting and community solar offer the same service, but there are three main differences:

  • the number of subscribers allowed: remote crediting projects cannot have more than 10 subscribers, whereas community solar projects must have a minimum of 10 subscribers (excluding projects sited on master metered multifamily buildings with at least 10 residential units).
  • the ability to have onsite solar: customers may have onsite solar and subscribe to a remote crediting project, however, customers cannot have onsite solar and subscribe to a community solar project.
  • the ability to subscribe to multiple projects: remote crediting subscribers may participate in multiple remote crediting projects, but community solar subscribers can only participate in one community solar project at a time. Customers subscribed to a remote crediting project cannot also participate in a community solar project, and vice versa.

What is the average installed cost for solar?

The cost is typically described in $/Watt and is dependent upon the size and the location of the project.

In the ConEdison region:

  • Residential (single-family) costs approx. $4.40/W ($18,000 - $35,000 before incentives)
  • Multifamily/Small-Commercial costs approx. $4.30/W

In the Upstate region:

  • Residential (single-family) costs approx. $3.50/W ($16,000 - $45,000 before incentives)
  • Multifamily/Small-Commercial costs approx. $2.65/W 

Affordable Solar and Storage Predevelopment and Technical Assistance

Multifamily affordable housing providers, community organizations or agencies, and technical service providers can access grants of up to $200,000 through the Predevelopment Program to support the development stages of community led solar and energy storage projects that benefit low- to moderate-income households and/or disadvantaged communities. Funding is available to projects located in the Con Edison, Upstate, and Long Island regions. 

Get Started

If you are interested in installing solar on your roof or property, use this search tool to find a contractor in your area. Or if you can’t or don’t want to install solar panels on your roof or property, you may benefit from community solar. Use this map to find a community solar project near you.

If you have additional questions about solar for multifamily buildings, email us at affordablesolar@nyserda.ny.gov. To learn about additional programs through NYSERDA for multifamily buildings, visit NYSERDA’s Multifamily Building Programs page.