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Solar Installations

Solar Installation FAQs

General Information

  1. How can I get help with questions about solar installations?

    If you are unable to find the answers to your questions on our website, please contact us by e-mail. General inquiries about solar installations may be sent to the Department at sustainability@buildings.nyc.gov Inquiries about solar Property Tax Abatement projects should be sent to greenroofandsolar@buildings.nyc.gov.

  2. What types of solar installations require a permit?

    Solar panels that are connected to the plumbing, electrical and/or structural systems of a building require work permits.

  3. What is required for solar installations that are not installed on a building?

    Systems such as portable battery chargers and solar landscape lights are not regulated by building, plumbing and electric code and therefor do not require work permits for their installation.

  4. How do I file for a permit to add solar electric panels on my home?

    Owners must hire Registered Design Professional who is registered with the Department to submit plans and an application for approval. The contractor engaged for installation must obtain the work permits.

  5. What licenses or registrations are required for solar installers?

    The equipment vendor does not need to be registered or licensed by the department. Contractors performing installation must be registered. Plumbing work for solar thermal systems must be installed by a licensed master plumber registered in NYC. Electrical work including installation of panels and wiring must be installed by Licensed Electricians registered in NYC.

  6. How are filing fees calculated and where do I pay?

    The filing fee is calculated by the department computer system based on the design professional’s stated value of the work on the application form. Payments can be made in person at the Borough offices. Online payments are available for PTA and Hub Self-Service projects. The fee schedule may be found in BC Section 28-112.2. A separate fee is calculated for the electrical permit.

  7. What is required if I want to install a building-integrated-photovoltaic (BIPV) product on my home, such as a solar roof shingle?

    BIPV systems must meet the same filing requirements as other solar panel jobs.

  8. How can I be prepared for a final inspection from the Buildings Department?

    When a final inspection is requested, all work must be completed. When the inspector arrives on site to review the project, the applicant must ensure that a complete set of the approved drawings is available on site and the installer is available to present the work. It is also recommended that the electrician be present for electrical inspections. See the DOB’s list of what to expect during an inspection. (Provide links to the Construction and Electrical Inspection Checklists)

  9. Where do I find information on connecting a photovoltaic system to the grid?

    Contact your electric utility for information on grid interconnection.

  10. I’m filing a New Building Application for my project. Do I have to file a separate application for a solar installation? A separate filing for the solar panel installation is required only if the owner intends to pursue the Solar Property Tax Abatement for the installation of photovoltaics, all other solar systems may be filed as part of the primary application for construction.

  11. I would like to install an experimental solar technology. How do I get it approved?

    The Department of Buildings has a process for reviewing and approving new sustainability technologies in the market. Interested parties seeking approval for new products or technologies should send an e-mail to otcr@buildings.nyc.gov

  12. Does the NYC Zoning Resolution affect the design of solar installations?

    Yes, solar panels are also regulated by the Zoning Resolution, but are also permitted obstructions on a roof as per the Zone Green Text Amendment. See the Department of City Planning website for guidance on Zone Green.

  13. How do I file for an electrical permit, and what do I need to file?

    A licensed electrician must file an electronic application online to obtain the electrical work permit. Box ‘E’ of the ED16A form should always be checked (see below) to ensure qualified inspectors are assigned to the project.
     

  14. Does the department provide review of preliminary design for solar projects?

    The department cannot provide this service. Complete plans and applications must be filed.

  15. Can the Buildings Department recommend contractors or registered design professionals?

    The department cannot provide recommendations. A full list of registered design professionals and contractors registered with department is available at Hiring a Professional

Solar Tax Abatement

  1. What does the deadline of March 15 in the law mean?

    Applications must be submitted to the Department by March 15 for a tax abatement to be applied to the current fiscal year’s property taxes. Applications submitted after March 15 will be eligible to have the tax abatement applied to the following Fiscal Year’s taxes. (Fiscal years run July 1 to June 30.) If the Tax Abatement Application satisfies applicable State laws, City codes, etc., the Buildings Department will approve the application and forward the approval to the Department of Finance for processing.

  2. Are there any additional processes, rules or costs required or incurred when applying for the tax abatement?

    An applicant’s professional designee must certify that the installation meets design and other requirements under all applicable laws, rules and codes. Generally, alteration applications and other requirements of the solar or green roof systems installation represent good practice and would be followed, regardless of the tax abatement application. Applications for a solar tax abatement require that the eligible expenditures of the solar electric generating system are disclosed. The solar electric generating system compliance period is the tax year in which the property tax abatement commences and the three tax years immediately thereafter. (Tax years begin July 1 and end the following June 30.)

  3. Is the solar tax abatement taken before or after other incentive programs? In other words, which types of incentives (e.g., tax credits, tax abatements, tax exemptions, cash rebates, grants) must have the value of the incentive subtracted from the "total cost of the project?"

    Abatements are calculated with the otherwise eligible project costs AFTER interest, finance charges and grants have been subtracted from the initial total cost, but NOT after other tax-related incentives.

    Grants can include - but are not limited to - cash rebates from federal, state or local entities (e.g., NYSERDA rebates for solar PV). Grants do NOT include tax-related incentives, such as federal, state or local tax credits, tax abatements, tax exemptions or tax rebates. In other words, the value associated with tax-related incentives received does NOT need to be subtracted from the total initial cost of the project before calculating the abatement.

  4. Why is an architect or engineer required to be the applicant of record?

    As per NYS title 4-B and 4-C the application for Tax Abatement must include certifications. The designated agency (Department of Buildings) requires certifications submitted by an Architect or Engineer. This Architect or Engineer should file the alteration application necessary to receive a tax abatement. Additionally, the requirement of using a NYS licensed architect or engineer is also required by §28-104.1 and §28-104.7.10 of the New York City Construction Codes.

  5. How are interest expenses and finance charges calculated in the solar tax abatement amount?

    Interest expenses and finance charges are not permitted to be counted as part of the total project cost.

  6. If I sell my building can I "take" my PTA with me or does it stay with the solar system and the building owner?

    Property owners are urged to consult with a tax attorney or certified public accountant. The Buildings Department is not able to provide this advice.

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