New Utility, New Solar Programs for LIPA Customers
May 17, 2013
by EmPower Solar
LIPA Changes for 2014: What to Expect
LIPA is expected to undergo significant structural changes in the near future that might have an impact on the renewable energy and energy efficiency incentive programs available to electricity customers on Long Island. Specifically, in 2014, Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), New Jersey’s largest and oldest investor-owned utility, will take over operation and management of Long Island’s electric transmission and distribution system from National Grid.
In addition, Governor Cuomo has proposed a far more limited role for LIPA, and an expanded role for PSEG, including control over budgets and overall management. The goals of the changes are to have a more accountable and transparent utility structure, while maintaining the benefits of the lower debt payments associated with the non-profit LIPA holding company structure.
Impact on Solar Incentives
LIPA presently offers the most attractive solar incentives in New York State that help make solar an attractive investment for residential, commercial, and non-profit clients. So given the proposed changes to LIPA, what impact will it have on solar incentives?
While it is certainly possible that the specific incentive levels and rules might change, and historically incentives get reduced incrementally each year, we do not think there will be a dramatically reduced solar program. First and foremost, Governor Cuomo has demonstrated a significant commitment to developing solar in New York. In non-LIPA territory, The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) currently offers a solar rebate of $1.40/watt for commercial-scale solar systems, up to 50 kilowatts (kW) or $70,000, and 7kW for residential systems or $9,800. This is significantly lower than the solar rebates that are currently available in LIPA territory, which are capped at:
- $17,900 for purchased residential systems;
- $17,200 for leased residential systems;
- $172,000 for commercial-scale systems;
- $225,000 for non-profit, government, municipal, or educational customers;
However, NYSERDA’s rebates are still significant enough to drive solar growth (EmPower Solar is very active in Con-Ed territory with NYSERDA rebates).
For large scale solar projects, NYSERDA offers incentives for large scale net-metered systems, which compare favorably with LIPA’s Feed-In-Tariff Program. We anticipate that, under PSEG, LIPA customers will only be eligible for NYSERDA’s program, and not the robust incentives that are currently available today.
It is also important to note that PSEG has been commended for its commitment to solar energy in its New Jersey service territory, particularly through the release of their Solar 4 All program.
One specific concern is that the Governor also announced a rate freeze for three years. This might imply a reduction of budget available for renewable energy projects.
Take Advantage of LIPA’s Rebates Today
It is anticipated that the solar rebate available from LIPA for commercial and residential customers will stay at or near current levels throughout the rest of 2013. If you are currently considering acquiring solar power for your commercial facility or home, now is a great time to go solar and secure LIPA’s strong rebate funding.
To learn how you can go solar, call us today to set up a free consultation, (516) 837-3459.