NYSERDA Broadens Solar Hot Water Program

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is broadening its Solar Hot Water Program statewide and including projects that displace hot water produced by heating oil, natural gas, propane and wood, in addition to projects that displace electricity. The changes are expected to increase the number of households and businesses able to install solar hot water systems.

Previously, the program focused on displacement of hot water produced by electricity. NYSERDA is accepting applications to the expanded Solar Hot Water Program on a first come-first served basis. Applications will be available through solar hot water installers for homes, commercial facilities, agricultural use, not-for-profits and government buildings.

These program changes align with the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) to create a cleaner, more reliable and more affordable energy system in New York State. NYSERDA’s proposed Clean Energy Fund identifies solar hot water as a primary opportunity in renewable thermal systems. The program changes will help scale up adoption of solar hot water technologies, which use the power of the sun for fuel. The expected increase in solar hot water systems will also increase economic development and jobs in the clean energy economy.

“This solar hot water expansion is an opportunity for more residents, businesses and organizations to benefit from this clean energy resource,” says John B. Rhodes, president and CEO, NYSERDA. “As with Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative for solar electric systems, solar hot water can lower energy bills and improve the environment, while helping the State increase the use of renewable energy.”

Changes to NYSERDA’s Solar Hot Water Program are in response to the changing solar hot water marketplace and stakeholder input. They are a precursor to a more comprehensive effort to overcome market barriers under the proposed Clean Energy Fund, starting in 2016.

Solar hot water systems can provide approximately 50 to 80 percent of a homeowner’s hot water needs and generally have a very attractive payback period. They are especially valuable to businesses that heat large amounts of water, such as hospitals, dialysis centers, farms, hotels/motels/inns, restaurants, laundries and car washes.

The Solar Hot Water Program has $4.3 million available from the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to displace hot water produced by electricity through the end of 2015, and almost $3.4 million from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to displace hot water produced by non-electric fuel sources.

The Solar Hot Water Program provides support to help homeowners reduce costs, and—with state and federal tax credits—can cover nearly half the costs of the system. Commercial and other non-residential facilities can obtain support from NYSERDA, federal tax credits and an accelerated depreciation schedule.

Under new funding guidelines, the Solar Hot Water Program provides incentives of up to $6,000 per site for eligible one-to-four family homes and up to $150,000 per site for eligible commercial (including multifamily), agricultural, not-for-profit and government facilities.

Financial support from NYSERDA is paid directly to the eligible installer and must be passed on, in full, to customers. To qualify, equipment must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation. Financial assistance will be available only on approved solar thermal systems installed by NYSERDA-approved solar thermal installers.

NYSERDA will also feature solar thermal technology through the existing “Solarize” program, which is a proven customer acquisition model that uses locally organized community outreach efforts to attain a critical mass of area homes and businesses to install solar hot water systems, obtain competitive pricing and thereby lower the cost.

The RPS is New York’s primary policy to promote the development of new renewable energy resources. RGGI is the first innovative market-based mechanism in the U.S. to cap and cost-effectively reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change. RGGI auctions the emission credits (rather than give them away for free) and invests the auction proceeds in projects that conserve energy, save consumers money and support the transition to cleaner and more efficient production of electricity.

Under Governor Cuomo’s initiative for Reforming the Energy Vision, New York State will spur clean energy innovation, bring in new investments, improve consumer choice while protecting the environment and energize New York’s economy. This pioneering approach provides New Yorkers new opportunities for energy savings, local power generation, and enhanced reliability. To achieve the State’s economic development and environmental objectives, Reforming the Energy Vision encompasses statewide initiatives such as the Clean Energy Fund and $1 billion NY Green Bank to overcome market barriers and attract private capital. By empowering communities and creating jobs through programs like Community Solar NY and K-Solar for schools, the $40 million NY-Prize competition for community microgrids and the $1 billion NY-Sun initiative, New York is leveraging statewide resources to integrate local energy resources and meet the needs of New York communities.

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