NY State Solar wants you to be comfortable with the new technology terms associated with going solar so we've compiled this glossary to help you learn.

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Balanced Billing

Balanced billing is a payment mechanism that takes the amount you usually pay on your utility bill within a year and breaks that amount into twelve balanced monthly payments. This approach helps to offset peak bills. With balanced billing, you will still pay for the total amount of electricity used within the year, but balanced billing allows homeowners to anticipate their monthly energy costs.

Electric Piping and/or Conduit

An electrical conduit is a tube used to protect and route electrical wiring in a building or structure.

Energy Credit

Households with solar who generate excess electricity are able to transfer any energy they do not use back into the grid in exchange for credits on their utility bill. This transfer of energy for credits has the potential to reduce a customer’s monthly electricity bill.

Green Jobs – Green New York (GJGNY)

The Green Jobs – Green New York (GJGNY) Program provides New Yorkers with access to energy assessments, installation services, low interest financing, and pathways to training for various green-collar careers. GJGNY’s Photovoltaic (PV) Program provides incentives for solar technologies, such as residential and commercial solar arrays.


With all respect to the esteemed Doc Brown, he meant “gigawatt”, which is equal to one billion watts. We just don’t know if your array will be able to power a DeLorean by producing 1.21 gigawatts at once, but over time you might come close!

Kilowatt (kW)

This is the base unit that is used in the measurement for electrical energy. Your home’s energy consumption is measured in kilowatts.

Kilowatt-Hour (kWh)

This unit measures how much energy you use. A kWh equals the amount of energy that you would use by keeping a 1,000 watt machine running for one hour.


This abbreviation means kilowatt peak, is when electrical systems reach peak performance levels – For example, noon during a sunny day is when a solar system reaches peak performance.

Megawatt (MW)

A megawatt (MW) is one million watts and a kilowatt (kW) is one thousand watts.


A microinverter converts the direct current (DC Power) that a solar panel produces to usable alternating current (AC Power.) AC power is what your home uses to power lights, televisions, appliances – you name it!

Net Consumption

“Net consumption” is the difference between the amount of energy your household used, and the amount your solar system generated.

Net Metering

Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity that they add to the public grid.

New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA)

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority  is a New York State public-benefit corporation that was established in 1975. NYSERDA is located in Albany,  and has regional offices in New York City, Buffalo, and West Valley.

New York State On-Bill Recovery Financing Program

New York’s On-Bill Recovery Financing is a low-interest loan that eligible solar customers can use to finance the cost of recommended energy efficiency improvements. Customers repay their On-Bill Recovery loan through a charge on their electric and/or gas utility bill.

Permission to Operate (P.T.O)

This is the final step towards connecting a new solar system to the public grid. Permission to Operate often is given as a letter or other communication from the applicable Utility granting permission to interconnect a Solar Installation and operate it in parallel with the applicable public utility grid.


Across different localities, homeowners looking to go solar must meet a variety of permitting requirements. The timeline related to permitting depends on the state, local government, type and size of the system.


Photovoltaic devices generate electricity directly from sunlight through an electronic process that occurs naturally in certain types of material. These materials are called semiconductors. Solar panels are examples of photovoltaic systems.


Solar racking affixes securely to the roof structure to hold solar equipment in place. Racking is typically made from lightweight aluminum due to its overall strength.

Tax Credit

As defined by the U.S. federal government, a tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of income tax you would otherwise owe. For example, claiming a $1,000 federal tax credit reduces your federal income taxes due by $1,000. The federal tax credit is sometimes referred to as an Investment Tax Credit, or ITC, though is different from the ITC offered to businesses that own solar systems.

Related to solar, the federal residential solar energy credit is a tax credit that can be claimed on federal income taxes for a percentage of the cost of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

To qualify, the system must be placed in service during the tax year and generate electricity for a home located in the United States. 

In December 2020, Congress passed an extension of the ITC, which provides a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2020-2022, and 22% for systems installed in 2023. (Systems installed before December 31, 2019 were eligible for a 30% tax credit.) The tax credit expires starting in 2024 unless Congress renews it. There is no maximum amount that can be claimed.