What is the System Benefits Charge (SBC), and how can you take advantage of the program?
Most New York electricity customers will be paying the System Benefits Charge (often listed as SBC or RPS on their electricity bill) to their utility and may be wondering what exactly the charge is and what it is used for. The generic name masks the meaningful impact that those funds have across New York towards meeting clean energy goals and how the charge helps (unintuitively) New Yorkers save money on their utility bills through Community Solar programs.
Where Does the System Benefits Charge Go?
The System Benefits Charge (SBC) feeds into the Clean Energy Fund (CEF), which was established by the Public Service Commission in 2016 to advance clean energy and efficiency measures. The fund has four portfolios managed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) that cover a wide range of economic development initiatives from research to financing. For our purposes, the NY-Sun program is the one we’re going to give the most attention to as it facilitates solar power development and is the portfolio that passes on the financial benefits of clean energy directly to consumers and businesses.
More generally, the key takeaway here is the Systems Benefit Charge helps achieve New York’s ambitious climate goals such as reaching 70% renewables by 2030 and 100% clean power by 2040.
What is the NY-Sun program and how does it create economic benefits?
The NY-Sun program states upfront that its primary focus is to make “it possible for New Yorkers to choose clean energy while lowering their energy costs.” NY-Sun helps families and businesses through incentives and financing or programs like Community Solar across the state.
Incentives and financing are intended to lower the cost of installing or purchasing solar and there are separate programs designed for homeowners and for the contractors and developers installing solar. NYSERDA has a guide that lays out the variety of incentives and loan programs that homeowners can rely upon to help navigate NY-Sun programs. The drawback to incentives and loans is that there usually is an upfront cost to install solar that some businesses and homeowners may not be able to or unwilling to pay.
Community Solar and the System Benefits Charge
In contrast to the financing and loan programs, community solar does not require upfront capital, making it the most accessible solar program with financial benefits. Community solar offers discounted electricity to businesses and households in the same utility as the solar project. For example, OYA Renewables has community solar programs with available spots in the NYSEG and National Grid utility areas. Even if the business or household is located across the state, they can sign up and receive discounted electricity as long as the property is in NYSEG or National Grid.
How Can I Benefit from the System Benefits Charge?
There are a few ways that businesses or households can benefit from the System Benefits Charge.
The easiest option is to sign up to a community solar program in your utility area. OYA Renewables offers up to a 10% discount on electricity with our community solar programs, and have options available to businesses and households. Our community solar programs fill up well before the solar project is finished construction and we recommend reserving your share as soon as possible.
The second option is to consider installing solar on your property. OYA Renewables has program catered especially to property owners and commercial enterprises that integrates solar, battery storage and other clean energy technology, such as electric vehicle charging to meet your energy needs. We analyze your energy portfolio and have people that will navigate the incentives and permitting process for you.
Ask us about community solar
We can help you assess whether community solar or on-site solar is right for your needs.
View OYA Renewables’ articles to help you learn more about solar and the energy transition.
What is a Community Solar Program?
A community solar program is when multiple parties share the same power and financial benefits of a solar energy project. Learn all about community solar, how it works, its benefits, and the signup process.
How Low-Moderate-Income (LMI) Communities Benefit From Community Solar Programs
While community solar programs have been established in multiple states to address this issue of accessibility, participation has typically been low even though the programs often cost nothing or require only a very minimal fee to join.