New York City and Residential Solar: A Recipe for Success

New York City houses thousands of buildings that loom into the skyline, sparkling in the sun. These buildings serve as apartments, restaurants, shops and business offices to millions of people. Because the city reaches for the sky already, it’s no wonder they are trending toward solar power now, especially expanding in residential solar.

Solar Shining in New York

In fact, according to New York officials, residents are installing home solar panels at a rate almost 28.5 times higher than in 2011! The Solar Energy Industries Association credits this furious incline to the fact that solar costs have plummeted 70% in recent years. When the state added in incentives, they mixed the recipe necessary for a steep upward slope in residential solar.

New York residents are not only donning their homes in solar but also their apartments and townhouses too. Of course, this surge demands more solar installation workers. Within ten years, the Economic Development Corporation noticed that installation companies multiplied over 11 times, driving prices even lower as the businesses competed.

New York City’s now roaring solar industry brought the installation cost somewhere between 20 and 50 grand. Still, David Sandbank from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority says that residents can reduce their bill by 50% with state credits and incentives! Many are encouraged to take the plunge in going solar and are reaping the rewards of their investment.

One New York family knew they wanted home solar panels, but they needed someone to talk them through the solar process.

Once they understood the benefits, going solar was a no–brainer. They even paid off a good portion of their loan with the state and federal incentives while shaving off almost 85% of their energy bill!

As more people are installing home solar panels in the city, the government has worked to lessen the time spent dotting i’s and crossing t’s. Tria Case, City University of New York’s director of sustainability, says they needed more coordination to speed up the process.

Solar Challenges in the Big Apple

Still, the big city has more to improve if they want the solar trend to continue. Many homes dotting the inner city find solar energy difficult to use. The skyscraper down the street blocks the sunlight for their panels, causing problems with efficiency.

Another challenge residents must overcome is the city’s fire codes. President of Best Energy Power Ronnie Mandler says these codes prevent companies from installing enough panels to cover the homes’ needs. To meet city guidelines, residents need six feet of cleared space, including on the outskirts of the roof and around doors or skylights.

In addition to the fire code and towering buildings, another hurdle in residential solar is the housing industry. The city wants its housing co-ops to make the switch, but many of these businesses hesitate to spend the upfront cost.

Solar Future Still Bright

Even as the city faces such challenges to solar energy, they still show a huge interest in this sustainable resource. Mayor Bill de Blasio has encouraged the residents’ interest, resolving to reduce greenhouse gases by 80% over the next 34 years. To display his support for residential solar, the mayor revealed new solar panels dressing up the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s roof.


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Renewable Energy Creative Director, Content Manager & Freelance Writer.

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