Not only does going solar benefit the planet, it benefits your wallet too. It will drastically reduce your electric bill, and you can take advantage of some of the best solar tax credits in the country as a New Yorker.
We want to make sure our customers understand the entire solar panel installation process, so that they can get the savings and credit they deserve for switching to clean energy. That’s why we believe it’s important that we let our customers know what to expect, even after the installation. We’re here for you and your new flat roof solar system!
Read on for what you can expect in the weeks and months post solar panel installation.
What happens after your solar panels are installed?
The Brooklyn SolarWorks crew has just left your home after completing your solar installation. You might be thinking: what’s next?
The next step in the solar process is receiving final approval from the various entities that issued permits for the installation. This involves inspections and a meter swap, all of which Brooklyn SolarWorks will schedule and facilitate – all you need to do is grant us access to your home on the scheduled dates.
The Department of Buildings requires that each installation is inspected to ensure compliance with building and electrical codes. In this inspection, a representative will check over your installer’s work to make sure, for example, that the panels were mounted securely and that the electrical wiring was done correctly.
Once your solar panel system is installed, Con Edison will also pay a visit to your home to do a final inspection and swap out your old meter for a net meter. This device enables net metering to take place, ensuring that you receive the proper credit for the amount of energy your system exports to the grid.
Once Con Edison issues a final acceptance letter, your system will be given permission to operate (PTO). This means the system is registered in their billing system and it’s ready to be activated in your home’s electrical system. This is done by turning on the AC disconnect switch or dedicated solar breaker in your electrical panel. We’ll provide instructions or stop by to assist.
How to Read Your Electric Bill from Your Utility Company
Getting your first ConEd bill after your solar panel installation is an exciting moment. It can be a bit confusing though, because ConEdison does a poor job of explaining their billing and recordkeeping system.
Below is an example of what your bill will look like after installing solar panels. The following is a quick breakdown of each section on your new bill and what it all means.
Your Net Meter Summary
This new section lists ConEd’s record of how much energy you’ve bought from them. It also tells you how many credits (if any) you have stored up through their net metering program.
Your Electricity Usage
If your house required more electricity than your solar array produced in a month, the value will be positive. This is because you bought some extra from the grid to make up the difference.
If your system produced more energy than you needed in a month, the value will be negative because you gave away your excess to the grid.
In other words, this first column should read ‘Your Grid Electricity Use.’ It indicates how much energy from the grid your home used that month.
How to Read Your Net Meter Summary
Cumulative Net Meter Energy Credit
The negative value from the previous column gets stored in this column. ‘Cumulative Net Meter Energy Credit’ is your “bank” of stored up solar credits.
If your grid use in the first column is negative in a given month, that amount will get added to the previous month’s banked amount.
If your grid use is positive, that amount will be withdrawn from your credit bank if you have any.
If your credit bank hits zero, ConEd will charge you for any remaining amount of power. The last column lists this amount as ‘kWh Billed.’
Note: If you get an unusual bill, it’s good to check the reading type. If the most recent reading says ‘Estimated’, ConEd didn’t take a true reading this month. Your bill may be much different than what really happened. They often incorrectly estimate that recently installed systems are not active. In this case, they will take a true reading within a month or two and correct for any overcharges.
Understanding Your Energy Consumption
You may need to do some math in order to get the full picture of your home’s energy consumption. One confusing factor here is that ConEd cannot see how much power your solar system generates. All they can see is how much power you take from or give to the grid.
We’ve created the chart below to show how adding your Sunny Portal production data to your ‘Net Meter Summary’ can give the complete picture of your home’s energy consumption.
For example, if your solar system produced 598 kWh between September 10th and October 9th, but 411 kWh were sent back to the grid, that means your home consumed 187 kWh in that period.
Similarly, if your system produced 498 kWh between February 11th and March 12th, and an additional 157 were brought in from the grid, that means your home consumed a total of 655 kWh.
Keep this in mind if you need to figure out your home’s true electric consumption for any reason, or if you’re interested in determining your true solar offset percentage for a given month or year (Solar Production divided by Actual Home Usage).
If you have trouble finding your solar production numbers, please let us know and we can direct you to them. Also, feel free to reach out if you believe there are issues with your solar system’s performance.
If you believe there is a problem with your billing, contact ConEd’s Net Metering division at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-780-6600. Remember, they cannot see how much energy your system has produced.
Claiming Your Solar Tax Credits
The final step in the solar process is an exciting one: collecting your tax credits! When tax season arrives, there are a few different tax credits your system may be eligible for. We can provide some basic information and resources on these credits, but because we are not financial professionals, be sure to look to an accountant or tax expert for guidance on filing.
For filing purposes, your installation date and signed contract are available in your customer portal.
You May Be Eligible for These Solar Tax Credits:
- The Federal Solar Income Tax Credit: an income tax credit worth up to 30% of your installation costs.
- The New York State Solar Income Tax Credit: a state income tax credit worth up to $5,000.
- The NYC Property Tax Abatement: allows NYC homeowners to claim 20% of solar energy system costs as a property tax abatement over a 4 year period.
- NYS Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Credit: If you live in a qualifying historic neighborhood, your solar installation may be eligible for an additional 20% tax credit.
Learn more about the solar tax incentives available to New Yorkers.
Monitoring Your System with Your Solar Company
When your solar PV system is installed, the solar system’s inverter will be connected to your home’s WiFi. This connection enables your new solar panels’ production data to be collected in your Sunny Portal. This allows you to track your system’s energy production and determine your offset, if you feel so inclined.
Connecting your system to WiFi also allows us, your solar installer, to monitor your system remotely. As part of our insurance package, we provide all of our customers with 24/7 real-time monitoring in the event that there are any issues with your system at any point in the future.
Enjoy the Many Benefits of Your New Solar System
The use of solar energy is important for a number of reasons, and it’s an exciting moment to finally have your rooftop solar system installed. Once your system is installed, you have access to clean energy produced right in your own home.
Because switching to solar power is such a meaningful decision, it’s important to us that all of our customers fully understand the solar panel installation process, from contract signing through post solar panel installation.
Ready to make the switch to solar for your NYC home? Trust an expert. Talk with us today!
Starting next year, Con Edison will be charging new solar customers a Customer Benefit Contribution (CBC) charge. This new charge is effectively a solar tax in New York City. While it will not significantly affect the investment in solar, we want to make sure our customers are aware of the upcoming changes.
Read on for what you need to know about the New York “solar tax.”
What is the CBC charge?
Starting January 1, 2022, Con Edison will be applying a Customer Benefit Contribution (CBC) charge to the electric bills of solar owners whose systems were interconnected on or after this date.
Note: If your system was installed prior to this date, you will not be charged for the CBC. You’ll continue to receive the full retail value of the energy produced by your system for the next 20 years.
The CBC charge is based on the DC nameplate rating, service class, and location of the solar system. We expect this “solar tax” to cost NYC solar owners $7-$10 per month.
Where did this solar tax come from?
Last year, Con Edison announced it would be making changes to its current Net Metering program. Some states have begun to do the same in order to address cost shifting. Utility companies claim that they need to charge their non-solar customers more money in order to make up for the revenue they lose from the Net Metering of clean energy.
To address cost shifting at the state level, NYSERDA announced last July that Phase One Net Metering (the program as it is now) will only be available for projects interconnected before January 1, 2022.
Making the switch to clean, solar energy is a significant financial investment that benefits the entire grid. However, it will now result in an extra charge from Con Edison. This charge is effectively a tax on solar in New York.
Is the CBC charge final?
This charge will unfairly target solar customers and therefore stunt the growth of solar in NYC, which undermines the city and state’s sustainability goals. For this reason, members of the solar industry are doing what they can to fight back. Brooklyn SolarWorks, NYSEIA, and a number of other solar companies and organizations in New York have filed comments with the state on the charge.
The current Net Metering program has been instrumental in the spread of solar throughout NYC; yet this new charge disincentivizes the investment in solar. When it comes to cost shifting, the truth is that solar owners account for only about 1% of total electric customers in the state. Thus, any cost shifting that occurs cannot be very significant. Further, making the switch to solar is an investment that has considerable economic and environmental benefits for both Con Edison and the city as a whole.
The CBC is just another barrier to residential solar in our city. We believe solar should be becoming more accessible to New Yorkers, not the other way around.
Will the CBC charge affect my investment in solar?
While the potential savings from the current Net Metering program will decrease, it is important to know that the return on your investment in solar will not change significantly.
Though payback periods may vary when factoring in these new changes, the investment in solar is still worthwhile, for yourself, for your community, and for the planet.
With that said, energy policy in New York is always evolving. If you’re considering solar, we urge you to move forward as soon as possible to avoid any potential uncertainty.
Take charge of your electric bill and help spread solar! Talk with us about making the switch to solar today.