Learn About Solar

Solar electric systems convert the infinite energy from the sun into electricity even on cold or cloudy days. Electricity generated by solar electric systems does not create noise, air, or water pollution, unlike electricity generated by fossil fuels.

Solar panels can be mounted on a roof or the ground of homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, government buildings, and many other community organizations. Incentives and financing options to reduce installation costs are available through the NY-Sun Incentive Program. Federal and State tax credits may also apply.

Benefits of Solar

Installing solar electric systems offers several advantages, including:

  • Does not generate greenhouse gases and improves our environment by using less fossil fuels 
  • Lowers your electric bill- They may seem expensive upfront, but they will save you money in the long run 
  • There is very little maintenance required to maintain your solar panels and they can last longer than 25 years
  • Can provide power during a power outage if combined with a battery backup system
  • Even if you cannot get solar on your property, you can take advantage of all of these benefits as a community through Community DG (Shared Solar)

How Solar Electric Systems Work

How Solar Electric Systems Work

A solar electric system converts sunlight into electricity using many smaller solar (photovoltaic or PV) cells. When you hear the word photovoltaic or “PV” used, it simply means converting sunlight into electricity. Solar cells contain special materials called semiconductors (usually made of silicon). Semiconductors share some properties of metals and some of those of electrical insulators, making it a key part of solar cells. Panels of solar cells are mounted on your roof or the ground and convert particles of light energy, known as photons, into direct current (DC) electricity. An inverter changes DC (direct current) power into AC (alternating current) power, which we know as AC electricity that powers everything from our lights and electronics to appliances and water heaters.

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Most New Yorkers choose a grid-connected system. Grid-connected systems are tied (or connected) to the local utility, which means that you can tap into the grid for electricity whenever you need it. One of the big bonuses of a grid-tied system is called net metering, which can earn credits with your utility company and generate savings on future energy bills.

Net Metering

Net Metering allows residential and commercial customers who install solar (and other small scale renewables) to receive a credit on their electricity bill for excess power generated by their system and fed back into the grid. 

Long-Term Land Leases for Solar Arrays

Across New York State, interest has grown in leasing land for solar development. Solar developers are seeking parcels of at least 10 acres that are suitable for installing large solar arrays. Farmers and landowners that are interested in entering into these 20-40 year lease arrangements should understand all the aspects of the lease and solar project. The following fact sheet describes some of the key areas to understand when contemplating a land lease for solar. Consult with an attorney and your municipal assessor before signing any documents.