A popular rebate program that helped subsidize tens of thousands of solar energy systems on Long Island ended this weekend after state funding for the region’s portion of the program officially ran out.
The rebate program, which was operated by LIPA and PSEG Long Island, was taken over by the state Energy Research and Development Authority two years ago, with a $40 million funding commitment. Fast-paced solar sales on Long Island led to its quick depletion.
The rebates helped defray the cost of systems that can cost more than $40,000. At their most recent level, a 10,000-watt solar system would have received a rebate of $2,000 — considerably less than when the program started.
The move comes as PSEG Long Island prepares to announce that 30,000 residential solar systems have been installed on Long Island since the former Solar Pioneer program was first announced more than a decade ago.
In a statement, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, declared the Long Island solar market “self-sufficient and able to function without public subsidies.” The agency continues to fund rebate programs in all other parts of the state that have not used up their subsidies.
NYSERDA is a state agency that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to spur economic growth and help cut customer energy bills.
Blocks of state funding remain for commercial, municipal and other nonresidential rebate programs on Long Island.
One local solar installer said that while the residential rebate application process led to additional paperwork and delays, the funding helped make systems more affordable.
“I would have liked to see it stay around a little bit longer,” said Ian Weygand, owner of GreenLeaf Solar in Port Jefferson Station. “You are making it more affordable for the customer.”
Weygand also said that getting systems installed one to two months sooner without rebate delays could help customers start saving sooner, ultimately balancing out the effect of the program’s end.
PSEG said residential customers already approved for rebates will be paid “once the solar systems are satisfactorily installed,” but no new applications will be accepted.
PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said the company will “continue to support the demand for residential rooftop solar” through an on-bill financing program to be launched later this year that will help defray some costs.
A 30 percent federal tax credit for home and business solar systems remains in place, as does a state tax credit.
Peter Constantakes, a NYSERDA spokesman, noted that the solar industry on Long Island has continued to grow, even as incentives in the rebate program gradually declined over the years. “We think the industry has done a good job and built a strong base they can continue to build on,” he said.