The Solar Celebration was a great success! Thank you to everyone who helped: Jane Doe for the great music; Sam and the Pi Truck for superb pizza; Old Goat Gear Exchange and Six Mile Creek Vineyard for donating gift cards; Purity for providing exceptional ice cream at a steep discount; and our friends at HeatSmart Tompkins--and, of course, our installer partners, Apex, Renovus, Taitem, and Twin Tier.

About the Program

Go Solar Tompkins brings together trusted installers with local experts to give you all of the information and support you need to make the switch to solar energy today!

More Options!

There are now more options available than ever before for going solar, and you can find them all in our program—at significant savings.


See the Savings

Our partner installers have dropped their prices for this program. See just how affordable solar can be.


Join Us for an Event

Learn all about the program, meet the installers, talk with people who have made the switch to solar. All events are free and open to everyone.


How is Go Solar different than Solar Tompkins? Solar Tompkins ran a terrifically successful program in 2015, more than doubling the amount of installed solar in the county in one year. Since then, that community volunteer-led group has transitioned to HeatSmart, which focuses on addressing the heating and cooling needs of buildings—by using a similar program structure to bring together residents with energy efficiency and high-efficiency heat pump contractors. Learn all about heat pumps and the HeatSmart program at www.solartompkins.org.

Partner Installers

We've partnered with trusted local and regional installers committed to offering high-quality products and services that meet stringent criteria. With these four installers, there’s truly something for everyone. Whether you own your home or rent, or even live in an apartment, have an ideal site or not, prefer American-made panels, or prefer to own or lease the panels, they’re able to offer the full suite of what’s available to anyone interested in going solar. And because we're working to bring residents to them, our partner installers have agreed to drop their prices by 10-15% through Go Solar.

Our partner installers have made their costs clear for every Go Solar customer. For a complete pricing sheet comparing each installers' prices and product offerings, download the file by clicking on the Pricing Sheet button, right. Prices are only guaranteed through May 2017, so be sure to enroll now for a no-obligation free site assessment.


For over a decade Apex Solar has worked to establish themselves as a premier solar energy provider. They have installed over 3,000 solar systems throughout the Northeast from Buffalo, NY to Boston, MA. With a local office in Syracuse, NY, Apex prides themselves on every single aspect of solar installation coming from in-house, with no outside sub-contractors. This is especially important as when you go solar through Apex, you're working with the 6th installer in the country to have company-wide NABCEP certification.


Based out of Ithaca, NY since their founding in 2003, Renovus Solar has designed and installed thousands of renewable energy projects throughout New York. They are known for building exceptional solar systems for homes, businesses, and communities that save money and provide reliable performance for decades. They are also considered a leader in New York State in the development of community solar and are one of the area’s most trusted and recommended local energy service providers.


Taitem (Technology As If The Earth Mattered) is an engineering company based in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1989 with a focus on energy efficiency and green building design, our award-winning Solar division has installed hundreds of solar photovoltaic arrays. The Taitem team of engineers, analysts and specialized technicians helps clients in Schuyler County and across New York State with homes and commercial buildings of many types, including office and industrial, wineries and farms. As a certified B-Corporation Taitem is committed to the triple bottom line, respecting people, planet, and profits in all aspects of its business.


Twin Tier Solar and Wind, a subsidiary of John Mills Electric, is a family-owned and operated company headquartered in Elmira Heights, with offices in Ithaca and Endwell. Over the past eight years, Twin Tier Solar has installed over 4.5MW of solar in the Southern Tier. That's the equivalent of about 750 typical residential installations. With a Twin Tier Solar installation, you can rest assured knowing that your system incorporates high-quality materials that have been installed by highly trained and experienced professionals, and that is backed by a local and established company.

Frequently asked questions

No, you do not need batteries if you install solar panels on your house. Most houses that ‘go solar’ in New York State remain tied to the electric grid. At night, or when the sun isn’t out and your panels aren’t producing electricity, you receive electricity from the electric grid like anyone else. So in this case, the grid is kind of like your battery storage.

Net metering is a policy mandated by New York State that makes solar work for customers even though we’re not sunny every day of the year. It works like this – on a sunny day you may produce a bunch of electricity from you panels, more than you would usually use! Instead of letting it go to waste, your panels will send that electricity into the electrical grid to be used by your neighbors or anyone else connected to the grid. In return for you sharing this excess electricity production, the energy company will give you a credit on your bill equal to how much energy you gave back. That means if your house produces 5kWhs of energy but you only use 2kWh, than 3kWh will be credited to your account. Before you begin to pay for any supply or delivery charges, you’ll get to use all the credits you accumulated.

Not quite, every customer connected to the electric grid pays a monthly service fee (~$15) to help make sure the lines are maintained and to ensure that we can repair and replace faulty power lines that lead to power outages. As long as you’re connected to the grid you’ll have to pay this service charge, but in return you’re also making sure you always have access to electricity – a pretty good trade-off!

It comes back to net metering. Installers where we live in New York design personalized systems that take into account how much energy you use throughout the entire year. They then create a system for you that takes into account local weather data and will not only meet your needs in summer months, but also generate excess power you can send back into the grid in return for credits on your bill. All summer you’ll slowly build up credits on your account. When late fall and winter hit and your panels electric production slows down, you’ll start to get more energy from the electric grid and burn through your credits.

You should find out with a free, no obligation assessment! Solar panels have steadily been going down in price and they’re now cheaper than ever before. Paired with state and national incentives, the sticker price on a solar panel system may go down by as much as 50-60%, and going solar through this campaign could save you another 8-15%! Best of all, new financing options can often make solar as affordable as your current energy bills! Instead of paying your electric utility, you’ll be paying off the loan on your panels that meet your electric needs. Once you pay off the panels all you’ll pay on your electric bill is the line service charge that everyone pays.

We see a lot of benefits associated with solar, but it’s certainly not for everyone. Residents that don’t use very much electricity probably won’t benefit financially by going solar (although there are environmental and energy independence reasons to go solar). Also, not every house or property can handle solar – if you live in a really shady area or have a bad roof, solar might not work for you (but maybe you can look into community solar). Finally, if you live in a drafty house with poor insulation and old appliances, you should consider getting an energy audit done on your house before going solar. There can sometimes be improvements to your house, like improving air sealing or insulation that will make your house more comfortable and save you money on your energy bills!

Well you’re already taking the first step, which is to become an educated consumer! We believe that everyone should learn their options and make the decision that’s best for their family. We encourage you to look at some of the additional resources on our website or to come to an event to meet us and ask questions. If you think you want to explore solar – sign up to talk to an installer about options personalized for you. They should be able to tell you whether solar will work on your property as well as how much it might cost, including all incentives you may qualify for. If you do decide to go solar, talk to an accountant to make sure you qualify for incentives, and consider asking for quotes from multiple installers to get the best deal.

There is no wrong time to install solar but there may be benefits to installation depending on when your installation is complete. It comes back to Net-Metering. When you build up in credits through net metering, they don’t last indefinitely. Every year you have a “true-up” day where your energy company gives you money for your excess credits. Your true-up day is automatically set to the day when your system is hooked up to the grid. For example, if your system is hooked up on August 3rd, your true-up will always occur on that date. In this case, that’s bad because we want to make sure our credits we generated from excess solar all summer will carry into the winter. Fortunately, you get one opportunity to change your true-up day. So while there’s no ‘bad’ time to install solar, having the installation completed sometime in the spring can be advantageous as that’s when most people would like their true-up day.

Every manufacturer makes equipment to different standards. Generally, panels are expected to last at least 25 years but will likely last longer. Inverters on the other hand will usually last 10-15 years and it’s likely you will have to replace the inverter within the lifespan of the solar panels.

If you don’t have a good location for solar either on your roof, or in your yard, there are still options! Talk to local installers to see if they have any community shared solar options that you might be able to take part in. This would allow you to own or lease production from panels located on a solar farm somewhere else.

This is another situational question. It depends where you are located. Most municipalities exempt solar installations from increasing property taxes but some towns, counties and school districts have opted-out. Ask your installer to find out how going solar may affect your taxes.

Leasing panels is cheaper in the short term because there is no big financial outlay at the beginning. That being said, you will never save as much money leasing as you potentially could by purchasing. Each person’s situation is different – ask your install when making your decision to find out which decision makes sense for you!

Community Solar Events

March 2nd (Thursday), Go Solar Tompkins Launch, Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC), Ithaca, 5:30-7:00pm

March 9th (Thursday), Enfield Grange, 5:30-7:30pm

March 22nd (Wednesday), La Tourelle, Danby, 5:30-7:30pm

April 1st (Saturday), Crossroads, Lansing, 2:00-4:00pm

April 13th (Thursday), Dryden VFW, 5:30-7:30pm

May 6th (Saturday), Brooktondale Community Center, 10:00am-noon

May 21st (Sunday), Cass Park, 10:00am-2:00pm

June 15th (Thursday), Trumansburg Fire Hall, 6:00pm-8:00pm



Contact Guillermo Metz

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County
615 Willow Avenue, Ithaca, NY 14850

Get in Touch