Go Solar

Solar for commercial buildings makes sense. There are state rebates for small and large commercial installations, along with a 30% federal tax credit. With new regulations about remote net metering, you have the option of installing panels on-site (on your roof or next to your building) or off-site. There is also effective and affordable financing. All of these reasons have led to a local explosion of businesses going solar.

How to go solar?

1. Get a free solar estimate from one of our area professional solar contractors:

2. Review the quote with the contractor and your options for siting, your ability to take advantage of rebates and tax incentives, and financing options.

3. Sign the contract. Get on the installer’s construction schedule. They will complete all of the project engineering, permitting, interconnection, and financing paperwork, including what you need to claim the incentives.   

4. Financing available.


There are two main incentives available to businesses in and around Tompkins County:

  1. NYSERDA "Nonresidential" rebate - For installations up to 750 kW, $0.45/watt (as of June 2018; rebate decreases over time)

  2. Federal solar Investment Tax Credit - 30% of cost. This is good for projects installed through 2021, after which the credit decreases to 10%.

In addition, small businesses in rural areas and farms may qualify for an additional 25% grant for solar energy or other renewable energy systems through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program.


CCE Tompkins produces 1/3 of its electricity with its leased solar panels on its roof.

CCE Tompkins produces 1/3 of its electricity with its leased solar panels on its roof.

In June 2013 Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County installed photovoltaic panels with 25 kw capacity with a lease agreement from a regional solar contractor. Since installation, the rooftop panels have been generating over 25,000 kwh of electricity a year, an annual savings of $1900 at current market prices. Since most of the electricity is produced during the summer, when the building’s demand is the highest due to air cooling, CCE has also seen a reduction in its demand charge by around $680 a year, and pay around $250 in fewer fees to NYSEG for transmission and other fees. After accounting for its monthly lease fee, CCE saves a total of over $1,600 a year, or over $24,000 for the 15-year lease. If electricity prices rise in the future, the savings will be even higher.

Got Questions?

Contact Guillermo Metz, Energy Team Coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, at gm52@cornell.edu or (607) 272-2292.

At the library the sun’s power brightens the scene,
At the bakery it grinds up your coffee and cools down your cream,
It powers the meetings at Caroline’s Town Hall,
and at First Baptist illumines the pastor’s call.
The cost has come down, it don’t take much thought:
We have got more sun than Germany’s got!
CCE got solar, TC3 got solar, Maguire’s got solar, too.
Four hundred homes last year got solar, so hey, what about you?

~poem inspired by Solar Tompkins