Solar Schuyler FAQ

FAQs & Financing - Solar Power and Community Solar Programs

Q. How do I know if my home is suitable for solar?
A. The most suitable location for a roof-mounted solar PV system is a south-facing roof with little to no shading from obstructions. Shading on the system can reduce energy output, so it is important to assess the locations of current obstructions around your home. Advances in panel and inverter technologies can allow homes with east or west-facing roofs and moderate shading to benefit from solar PV as well.

Q. Will the system produce electricity on cloudy days?
A. Yes, just not as much. An overcast sky will produce less electricity than a clear, sunny day.

Q. Will my system produce power if there is a blackout?
A. Without a battery backup, grid-tied solar PV systems will not operate when the power grid is down. This safety requirement, called “anti-islanding” allows utility linemen to safely repair power lines during a power outage. You may choose to add a battery backup to your solar system to keep the lights on during a blackout.

Q. How long will the installation process take?
A. From the day you sign a contract with an installer, it can take between a few weeks and a few months before your solar PV system will be turned on. The physical installation of the solar system typically takes anywhere from two to three days.

Q. What sort of maintenance is required?
A. Solar PV systems require virtually no maintenance. Rain showers will generally take care of pollen and dust that fall on your solar panels. In extremely snowy winters, you may have to clear snow from your roof to maximize winter production. Snow will melt off of a tilted system except when there is an extremely heavy snow or prolonged freezing temperatures. To brush snow off, you should use a tool specially designed for solar with a soft working surface.

Q. What size system should I install?
A. Every situation is different. The average residential solar system in New York is approximately 5-7 kW and produces approximately 5287-8400 kWh per year, but this could be too big or too small for you.. Your installer will work with you to design a system with characteristics that will meet your specific needs.

Q. How will solar affect my home’s value?
A. Solar systems add to a property’s value. Plus a solar PV system insulates you from rising electricity rates. Once the system has paid for itself, the electricity it generates is absolutely free!

Q. How much will I save by installing a solar system?
A. Your savings depend on the size of the system you choose, your annual electrical usage, electricity rates, and any financing option that you choose from your installer. To start, ask your solar installer how much electricity your new system is expected to produce on an annual basis and then compare that number to how much electricity your household uses to get an idea of how much you could save. Additionally, a homeowner’s savings are affected by the financing package chosen. Installers can also help you determine how much money you could save if electricity prices escalate over time.

Q. Will I still receive a monthly electric bill after installing a solar system?
A. Yes. You will receive a monthly bill from your utility company as you always have, but the amount owed will differ depending on your monthly electrical usage. Depending on how your system is sized, you may accrue credits in the more productive summer months which through “net metering” can be carried over and used in the less productive winter months. Even if your system entirely offsets your electrical usage, there is still a flat monthly fee required, in order to be connected to the grid.

Q. Am I required to use the installer that was preselected for my community?
A. To take advantage of the special pricing structure offered through the Solar Schuyler program, you’ll need to work with your pre-selected installer. However, other solar installers may be able to offer you competitive pricing and can access many of the same financing tools available. Anyone is free to work with any contractor they wish, but may feel more comfortable working with the installer that was selected by Solar Schuyler.

Q. Are state incentives available for my system?
A. The New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) provides incentives (currently $.40/watt) to help New Yorkers go solar. In addition, NYS offers a 25% state tax credit on your system's total cost.

Q. Are federal incentives available for my system?
A. The federal government provides an investment tax credit equal to 30% of your system’s total installed cost, net of state incentives. This can be claimed on your Federal tax return.

Q. What financing options are available to help me purchase a solar system?
A. NYSERDA supports two different loan options to help homeowners go solar. There are no upfront costs for either:

Option A: On-Bill Recovery Loan Program NYSERDA 1-866-NYSERDA Finance energy efficiency improvements to your home through a charge on your utility bill. Repayment amount will be based on projected savings on your energy bills. Interest rate is 3.49% and loan is transferable if you sell your property.

Option B: Home Performance with Energy Star® Residential Loan NYSERDA 1-866-NYSERDA You may qualify for a loan up to $25,000. Interest rate is 3.99% or 3.49% with autopay. You select a term of 5, 10, or 15 years.



Katherine Herleman
Clean Energy Communities Coordinator

Last updated February 9, 2018