Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? We’ve compiled answers to some of the most common questions below, but if you have others, don’t hesitate to contact us.

How Does Solar Energy Work?

How does solar energy work?

Solar panels convert the infinite energy of the sun into electricity—even on cloudy days. Unlike power generated by fossil fuels, solar energy does not create noise, air, or water pollution. Solar panels, which are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells, convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity throughout the day. Since most businesses and homes in the United States run on alternating current (AC) electricity, the DC electricity generated by solar panels is then converted into AC electricity through inverters. You can use the converted electricity to power your business. You will be compensated for providing power to the grid when you are producing more electricity than your business uses.

How do solar panels work?

PV cells allow particles of light, or photons, to knock electrons free from atoms. This process generates electricity, a form of power you can use just about anywhere.

Will my business still be connected to the grid?

When you go solar, you will still be connected to the grid. This allows you to draw power from the grid when your system is not producing all the electricity you may need. This also allows you to be compensated for providing power to the grid when you are producing more electricity than your business needs.

You may also consider installing energy storage technologies, which would enable your business to store the excess energy produced for use when needed. Storing excess energy that your system produces allows you to be less reliant on the grid. This stored energy can also be used during the event of a power loss, creating greater resiliency for your business. If you are interested in learning more about energy storage, check out our Energy Storage Program.

What Are the Benefits of Solar?

What are the financial benefits of solar energy?

By reducing the electricity you get from the grid, installing solar on your property lowers your business’s bill. There may also be significant federal and local tax credits for installing solar at your business.

What are the brand benefits of solar energy?

More and more customers are attracted to businesses with a commitment to sustainability, and companies that incorporate sustainability into their strategy have been shown to maintain a higher employee satisfaction level and retention rate. By demonstrating your business’s commitment to going green through clean, locally produced solar power, you bolster your company’s brand reputation and potentially attract new customers who value sustainability.

What are the environmental and health benefits of solar energy?

Solar is one of the cleanest forms of renewable energy. By switching to solar, you reduce your business’s carbon footprint and help New York fight climate change. Solar also reduces the presence of harmful air pollutants like sulfur dioxide, which may cause serious health problems. Ultimately, by going solar, you are contributing to a cleaner and healthier community.

How will I be compensated for my solar energy?

With solar, your business can go from being an energy consumer to becoming an energy producer. How your business is compensated for solar energy is dependent on whether the power you use is from an onsite or offsite array.

If your solar panels are onsite, you use the electricity your business produces. Anything beyond that will go into the grid. Electric utilities will then credit your bill for the excess power your business provides to the grid (though you may still have to pay other charges and fees).

If your solar panels are offsite, your business receives credits on its electric bill for the power the panels provide to the grid. The credit may be a dollar amount or kilowatt-hours.

Ask your contractor about how compensation will work for your business.

Is My Company Ready for Solar?

Is my commercial property a good candidate for going solar?

Solar panels work best when installed on a sunny south-facing roof or a large area on your property with little to no shade. Get in touch with a qualified contractor for a detailed assessment of your property. If your property isn’t a great candidate for rooftop or ground-mounted solar, community solar may be right for your business.

How many panels will my business require?

The system size depends on your business’s energy needs. Your solar contractor will work with you to assess those needs.

A good starting place is to gather a year’s worth of your electric bills. Your solar contractor will use that information and assess your business or building’s sun exposure, the size and slope of your roof, available roof space, and other factors to determine how big your system will need to be. Your contractor can also tell you if a ground-mounted system may be a better fit for your site than a rooftop system. Get in touch with a contractor to schedule a detailed assessment.

My company does not have an ideal property for installing a solar array. Are there other options available to my business?

If your business isn’t ideal for solar panels or you do not want to install them on your property, community solar may be the way to go.

Community solar is new to New York State, and more and more projects are becoming available. Community solar allows participants to reap the benefits of solar without having to install panels on their property, and makes the benefits of clean energy a possibility for more New Yorkers than ever before.

My business sits on a large property. Are there options for leasing our land to solar developers?

Some solar developers are looking for large parcels of land, ranging from 10 to 35 acres, that can be used for solar. Not every property is ideal for installing large solar arrays due to property limitations or zoning requirements, but a participating contractor or developer will be able to determine your suitability. If your property is a candidate for solar, you could benefit from a long-term lease with a developer. Learn more about leasing your land or roof for solar development.

Leasing land to solar developers is not limited to business owners. If you own a large property, you also could consider a long-term lease. To help you make the best, most informed decision, we put together a Landowner Considerations for Solar Land Leases Fact Sheet [PDF].

How Do I Get Started with Solar?

What do I need to know before contacting a solar contractor?

We put together additional information with tips and pointers for finding and preparing for a contractor.

How can I find a participating solar contractor in New York State?

To access incentives, you can choose from a list of available participating contractors. Before hiring a contractor, we encourage you to check the contractor’s references and talk to people who have previously hired the contractor. You should also request proposals from other participating contractors that service your area.

Where is solar being installed in New York?

Visit this interactive map to see how many systems have been installed near you.

How Will My Company Pay for Solar?

How much does solar cost?

The cost will depend on your system’s size, site conditions, equipment selected, and method of payment. Be sure to check references and get a few price quotes from participating contractors to determine the cost and payment option that is the best fit for your business. NY-Sun also offers financing options and incentives for New York businesses looking to go solar.

If my company installs solar, will our property taxes increase?

In most areas of New York State, you will be eligible for a 15-year tax exemption for your renewable energy system. However, some local governments and municipalities have opted out of this exemption. To find out if your municipality has opted out, you can review this listLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. or call your local tax assessor’s office.

Instead of the tax exemption, property owners in New York City who go solar may apply for the Real Property Tax Abatement Program. Visit the NYC Department of BuildingsLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. to download the PTA4 form and PTA4 instructions to get more information on the city’s solar installations.