Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to general questions about community solar and the Solar for All program below. View the Spanish version Solar for All Frequently Asked Questions [PDF].
How does Community Solar work?
What is community solar?
Solar panels are installed at a site in your community instead of on individual roofs. The clean energy generated by the community solar project is fed into the local power grid. That reduces the amount of fossil fuels that need to be burned to produce electricity in New York. Area residents can subscribe to the community solar project and get credits on their regular utility bill for the clean energy produced. Depending on the community solar project size, dozens or even hundreds of community members can subscribe to a single project.
Do I need to install anything in my home, on my roof, or on my property?
No. The community solar project is installed at a site in your area, but nothing needs to be installed at your home. There are no changes to your electric service, no new wires or equipment, and no one needs to come to your home from the utility or program.
How will the solar energy get to my home?
The clean energy generated by the community solar project will be fed into the local power grid operated by your utility. That means a portion of the electricity you already receive from your utility will now come from locally produced solar energy, reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned in New York State.
Where will my community solar project be located?
Solar for All is working with community solar projects throughout the State. When you sign up, we will try to match you with the one closest to your home. We’ll let you know key information about the project, like where it is located, how big it is, and how much clean energy it generates each year.
Am I changing my utility?
No. You keep your account with your current electricity provider.
Do I need to let my utility know I am signing up for this?
No. NYSERDA and the solar developer that operates your community solar project will work together to inform your utility on your behalf. You don’t need to call your utility or switch anything with your electric account. You don’t need to provide any information beyond what is in the Solar for All application.
Who operates the community solar project?
A solar developer will operate the community solar project. Solar developers are private companies that design, install, and maintain community solar projects. The solar developers and projects participating in Solar for All will be selected by NYSERDA.
Is this the same as buying my energy from an Energy Services Company (ESCO)?
No. With a community solar subscription, you are receiving credits from a specific community solar project in New York State based on how much electricity it feeds into the local power grid. And with Solar for All, you are receiving that subscription at no cost to you.
Can I participate in Solar for All if I am already buying my energy from an Energy Services Company (ESCO)?
Yes. You can participate in Solar for All and do not need to make any changes with your ESCO or utility.=
Can I participate in Solar for All if I am already subscribed to a community solar project or have solar installed on my home?
No. Based on statewide regulations for all net metered and distributed generation technologies, a customer can only receive solar from one source. That means a customer can have solar on their roof (if they happen to be a homeowner) or they can subscribe to a single community solar project.
However, if resident signs up for Solar for All, and at any point in the future would like to install solar on their roof or switch to a different community solar project, they can contact NYSERDA and cancel their Solar for All subscription. There is no fee or penalty for doing that at any time.
Will I still have electricity on cloudy days? How about at night?
Yes, because you will still be getting your electricity from the grid operated by your utility, you don’t need to worry about not having electricity if it isn’t sunny outside.
If utility lines go down in my area, will I still have power because I have solar energy?
No, you will still have the utility’s power lines going into your home. If there is an interruption in utility service, it will still affect your home.
How does Solar for All work?
What is Solar for All?
Solar for All provides eligible households the opportunity to subscribe to community solar at no cost. Community solar generates clean electricity here in New York, creating local jobs and helping the environment.
Solar for All program participants save money on their monthly electricity bill by receiving credits for the energy produced by the community solar project. There are no upfront costs, fees, or payments to participate. By signing up, you are saving your family money and helping your community benefit from a cleaner environment and economic growth.
What is NY-Sun?
NY-Sun is an initiative from the New York State government under NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. NY-Sun aims to make solar more accessible to all New Yorkers by providing incentives, financing, education, and other resources that will help grow solar projects of all shapes and sizes across the State.
Who is eligible for Solar for All?
You must live in New York State, pay your own electricity bill, and meet income qualifications to be eligible for Solar for All.
Residents of New York State that have a household income below 60% of the state median income are eligible, and you can use participation in utility or federal assistance programs to demonstrate eligibility.
You must also pay for your own electricity bill from one of the State’s major utilities: Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Con Edison, National Grid, NYSEG, Orange and Rockland or Rochester Gas & Electric. PSEG Long Island customers and those who receive electricity from a municipal utility are unfortunately not eligible. Households that already have low electricity use (below 1,000 kilowatt hours in the last twelve months) are also not eligible.
Can I still participate in Solar for All if I move?
It depends where you move. If you stay within an area where your current utility provides electricity, you will be able to keep your subscription. If you move to an area within New York State where another utility provides electricity, you may be able to keep your subscription, as long as there is an available spot in a local community solar project for Solar for All subscribers. If you move outside of New York State, unfortunately you will not be able to keep your no-cost community solar subscription.
How do I cancel my subscription?
While we would hate to see you go, you can cancel your subscription by calling 1-877-NYSMART or email Solarforall@nyserda.ny.gov.
Are there fees or penalties if I cancel?
No. You can cancel at anytime without having to pay anything.
Who can I get in touch with to learn more?
If you have any additional questions, call 1-877-NYSMART or email Solarforall@nyserda.ny.gov
What does Solar for All cost?
What does no cost really mean?
There is no cost of any kind to you. There are no upfront costs, no monthly charges, and no fees of any kind. Your subscription is paid for by the program, which is administered by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) as part of the NY-Sun Initiative.
What is a bill credit?
Your utility purchases the energy generated by the community solar project and money is distributed to community solar project members in the form of credits that show up on your electricity bill. Your bill will show the credited amount in dollars, and will explain how many kWh (kilowatt-hours) of electricity were generated by your community solar subscription that month.
Do I need to do anything to redeem my bill credits?
No. The credits will automatically show up on your monthly electricity bill from your utility.
How much will I save?
It depends on how much energy is generated by the project, and it will be a different amount each month. In sunnier, summer months, for example, the project will generate more solar energy and earn you more credits than in the winter. We estimate that you could see an average of $10 per month in credits on your electricity bill.
How long will the no-cost subscription last?
The Solar for All program is planned to be available for up to 10 years, beginning September 2018. Eligible program participants enjoy the benefits of a no-cost subscription until the program closes. If you move, you may or may not be able to keep your subscription.
Will this program affect my other benefits like heating bill assistance?
No. Participation in Solar for All will not impact your eligibility for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) or other benefit programs. For more information view our frequently asked questions [PDF].
Can I participate in Solar for All if I am receiving a Bill Discount through my utility?
Yes. If you are receiving low income bill discounts you can participate in Solar for All. Solar credits will roll over to the next month if you have no remaining payment obligation in the current month.
Can I participate in Solar for All if I am on a Budget Billing plan with my utility?
Yes. If you are on a Budget Billing plan you can participate in Solar for All and receive monthly credits on your utility bill from a no-cost community solar subscription. However, the way the credits are handled for Budget Billing customers will vary depending on your utility. If ConEdison or Orange & Rockland is your electric utility, your credits will reduce how much you pay on your utility bill each month. If NYSEG, RG&E, Central Hudson, or National Grid is your electric utility, your credits will be counted against your budget balance (what you owe the utility), and may be used to adjust your monthly budget bill.