Educating the public on renewable energy will be the catalyst to large scale changes from non-renewable to renewable energy. Time and again it has been said that knowledge is power. Now knowledge can allow one to produce power. The power of the sun can be held in the palm of your hand and provided to everyone in your neighborhood!

There are a variety of educational resources in the Capital Region offering several different types of classes and certifications in renewable energy. Hudson Valley Community College and the Work Force Development Program, Tech Smart, and Questar III Boces are three prominent academic institutions, each of which has devoted curriculum towards renewable energy fields.

For a complete list of the available programs offered please visit their websites. You can quickly access their individual programs on their websites by clicking on their logos.

     questar III boces                       tecsmart hvcc                                HVCC


Frequently Asked Questions


How does solar PV work?

Solar PV systems work by using cells to convert sunlight into electricity. The PV cells are made up of semiconductor material that absorbs light energy. This energy knocks electrons within the material loose and then flows in a certain direction. This flow of electrons is a direct current (DC). Inverters then transform the direct current into alternating current (AC) that can then be used to power appliances within the home or be sold directly to the electrical utility grid.


What’s the average size system?

-Residential            -Commercial           

2-7kW                    20kW and up


What are the components of a system?

This depends on what kind of system you’re looking for. Is it utility connected or off-grid? Generally a PV system consists of:

- racking for modules

- modules

- batteries (for off-grid)

- inverter

- electrical enclosures/cabinets

- Balance of System (BOS) aka wires, grounding components, safe guarding applications, etc.


How much does a system cost?

PV systems can range from $3-$8 per watt, with the cheaper price be attributed to larger systems. A two (2) kilowatt system may cost between $10,000 and $14,000 ($8.00 to $7.00 per watt), while a five (5) kilowatt system may be installed for as little as $22,500 to $30,000 ($4.50 to $6.00 per watt). These prices do not take into account the incentives and rebates available.



What is the rate of return?

Many factors play into this estimation so it is hard to say. After the incentives, many PV users have seen their complete investment returned within 5-7 years. After that point your system is producing revenue. The lifetime of a system is 25+ years. That's a lot of revenue.


What are the tax rebates & incentives?

The most commonly used incentives are NYSERDA’s rebate of $1.00 per watt installed, NYS tax credit worth 25% of the installed system and the federal tax credit of 30% of the system’s cost and installation. There are many other incentives that can be utilized in addition to these. For a comprehensive list take a look at our incentive charts to see what you’re eligible for or check out


Are there other financing options available?

Yes. There are several options for obtaining a PV system aside from directly purchasing and installing, such as:

• Solar Lease – Customer pays little or no money up-front and is not responsible for system monitoring or repair. Often immediately cash-flow positive.

• Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA) – Customer purchases only the electricity generated from the system.

• Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) – Up-front cost is paid by a local government fund and repaid by homeowner through property taxes. (Currently only available in Bedford and Babylon, NY).

• Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) Loan – Utility company pays the bulk of the system cost and is repaid by customer through annual sale of SRECs. 


There are several methods for obtaining solar electricity. While there are plenty of solar companies willing to put a system on your property for no money down, the most preferable method would be to purchase the system outright or take out a bank loan. When you buy your system you are getting the full benefit - the tax credits, the incentives,  SRECs (if they apply), and the free incoming energy for the life of the system. You arn't paying someone else for what's on your property in a long term contract. A none-leased solar system adds value to buildings should you choose to sell it while a required contract may not. An advertised perk of leasing a system is you won't be responsible for its maintenance. While this sounds great, a correctly installed system really doesn't require much maintenance. There's no moving parts and our solar panels have a 25 year performance warranty and the inverters carry a 10-25 year performance warranty. 

In the end, the company you sign a contract with is making a long-term profit off your system. Owning your own system is the best way to go.


How much space would a PV system need?

This depends entirely on how much power you would like your system to produce and the quality of the solar panels. A small PV system may require 50 square feet while a typical 4kW may require up to 600 square feet.


How do I size my system?

You should try to size your system equal to or less than your annual consumption. In New York State the uttility grid will not reimburse you for your extra energy above 110% of your consumption. You can see your kWh consumption history on your electric bill. That is what your installer will use to decide what system size is best for you.

How do I get reimbursed for electricity supplied to the grid?

If your system produces more power than you need to run your home or facility then the excess gets sent back into the grid. For how many kWh you send back into the grid per month will be credited to your account and carried over to the next month. If you consistently produce more than you need the excess power is given back to you in cash from the utility company. The limit for this net-metering back into the system is 7kW for residential systems.

This is the process for National Grid. Any other utility provider customers should check the process their utility offers.

Renewable Energy Organizations

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