Employees of NY State Solar, a residential and commercial photovoltaic...

Employees of NY State Solar, a residential and commercial photovoltaic systems company, install an array of solar panels on a roof in Massapequa in Aug. 2022. Credit: AP/John Minchillo

Solar installations across Long Island were through the roof in 2022, defying a national trend that saw a 16% drop in new sun-power arrays across the country.

For 2022, Long Island saw 8,111 new installations, a jump of nearly 19% from the 6,825 systems installed the previous year, according to state figures. In all, about 79.3 megawatts of solar were installed across Long Island last year, compared with 64 megawatts in 2021. A megawatt powers between 150-210 homes

“We haven’t seen these high numbers in five years,” said Michael Voltz, director of energy efficiency and renewables for PSEG Long Island, which administers the program for LIPA and tallied the numbers from state figures.

Solar installations on Long Island soared in the mid-2010s, as national companies that offered leased solar systems dominated the market. To propel that growth, the companies and local installers used up the last of panel-only local and state rebates for home installations. Between 2019 and 2021, annual installations declined to between 5,752 and 6,825 respectively, according to the state figures, and several of the largest leasing companies shut down or left the region.

The higher 2022 Long Island figures come despite a downturn in solar installations across the country last year — a 16% drop from 2021, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association, an industry group. The group blamed trade friction following the U.S. Commerce Department's tariff investigation into imported solar panels. “Uncertainty surrounding the anticircumvention investigation and numerous solar-equipment detentions by Customs and Border Protection constrained industry growth,” according to a report on 2022 commissioned by SEIA.

But that trend seems to have missed not only Long Island, but New York state, according to local and SEIA figures. New York state overall added 863 megawatts of new solar capacity last year, “The most it has ever installed in a single year,” according to SEIA, which noted the increase was the fourth highest among U.S. states.

New York’s total 863 megawatts of new solar for 2022 compares with 667 megawatts of solar capacity New York added in 2021, a 29% increase. SEIA also that of the 1,014 megawatts of community solar installed nationally last year, 532 megawatts were installed in New York, the most community solar capacity that any state has ever installed in a single year.

Community solar allows disparately located ratepayers to share discounts provided by solar by subscribing to an array’s accumulated power output.

Solar installers say 2023 could be a growth year for the market. A federal tax credit that had been sunsetting the past two years has been restored to its full 30% this year, noted David Schieren, chief executive of EmPower Solar in Island Park. He said supply constraints tempered his company’s growth last year. But he said those are easing, and questions about a new LIPA time of day rate that could have impacted solar are being resolved.

Last year saw “very strong demand and supply constraint,” Schieren said. “This year we’re ramping up and starting to get more consistent supply.”

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