This Homeowner Erased Their Electric Bill for ZERO (0) Dollars Down!

…and now I can cross “Write blog post with click bait title” off my bucket list!

This was a fun and meaningful project for two reasons:

  1. The homeowner appreciates memes as much as me (be forewarned that this post will, therefore, contain GIFs galore);
  2. The homeowner actually did get solar on their roof without paying Sungineer Solar a cent (!), by leveraging tax credits, NYSERDA incentives, and Green Jobs Green New York (GJGNY) financing.

Sungineer Solar’s vision is a future where everyone in our region has a relationship with solar – including (and especially) moderate-income households.

So, this project is a great example to explain how solar project costs are structured and subsidized, and how you, too, might get solar on your property, without paying Sungineer anything.

Incentives & Credits

Let’s take a sample project, a really simple 9.5 kW roof-mounted system using QCells panels and one string inverter. Pricing for this hypothetical project breaks down as follows:

What goes into those numbers?

System Cost: the top line, total cost of the system.
NYSERDA Incentive: NYSERDA subsidizes the cost of solar at $0.35/watt (increasing to $0.50/watt for systems interconnected in 2022!). For households under a certain income threshold, the Affordable Solar program can boost this incentive to $0.80/watt! The NYSERDA incentive is paid directly to Sungineer Solar at the end of the project.
Homeowner Responsibility: the amount you are responsible for paying Sungineer Solar throughout the course of your project.
Federal Tax Credit: when you file your taxes the year after your project is interconnected, you’ll get 26% of the system cost as a credit against your federal taxes.
NYS Tax Credit: similarly, you’ll get 25% of the system cost (up to $5,000) as a credit against your NYS income taxes.
Final System Cost: this is how much you will pay in the end for your system, after you receive your tax credits the following year.

New York is a great state for solar (yes, even with the weather), and our state agencies have done so much to accelerate the clean green energy revolution.

Still, that Homeowner Responsibility line is a big number. What do you do if you don’t have $20k in the bank, and still want solar?

GJGNY Financing

The “Green Jobs, Green New York” program offers low-interest loans for qualified projects, like residential solar PV installations.

In the case of our hypothetical project above, the homeowner could use the short-term Tax Credit Bridge Loan to cover the $10,490 ($5,490 + $5,000) they expect to receive back on their taxes. Then, when they receive their tax refund the following year, they simply pay off the loan.

The homeowner could also use the Smart Energy Loan to cover the Final System Cost ($10,626). Both loans are payable directly to Sungineer at the close of the project, so this homeowner wouldn’t pay anything until the first loan repayment!

We like pairing this with On-Bill Recovery, which allows a homeowner to repay their Smart Energy Loan right on their utility bill (one fewer bill to track). It caps your monthly payment at your estimated average energy cost savings. That is, when your solar drastically decreases your electricity supply charges, you “make up” the difference by paying for your solar PV system on your utility bill, not to exceed your existing costs.

Bottom line: no net impact on your family’s monthly budget, AND you get solar on your property!

7.82 kW Roof-Mounted System

With that explanation using hypothetical data, let’s take a look at the project!

Or, try to. It was a low slope roof with a sloped backyard, so you can’t actually see the system from the ground. Whomp whomp. Here are a few photos from the roof:

The homeowner had this to say about their experience:

…we are ecstatic with the final product. The physical installation was exactly what was discussed, even though you had to be flexible with some of the plans. Couldn’t be happier!


They added:

…professional, yet at the same time it was like working with friends. If we lived closer, I would offer to take you guys out for a drink sometime!


…drinks on us. 😉