On August 17, three new pieces of legislation establishing and expanding financial incentives for solar energy projects were signed into law in New York by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Such incentives are necessary to ensure the competitiveness of solar energy production given its current high price relative to conventional sources of electrical generation.
Bill A34B provides for a 25 percent tax credit to homeowners, up to $5000, of the cost of installation of certain solar energy equipment. The law also extends this tax credit to homeowners either leasing solar equipment or purchasing power produced by solar equipment in agreements lasting at least ten years. This law takes effect immediately and lasts 14 years.
Bill A10620 extends a maximum $62,500 real property tax abatement of 2.5 percent between January 2013 and January 2015 for homeowners installing solar energy equipment through 2014. Bill A05522B provides for exemptions to sales taxes imposed by the state on commercial solar energy equipment and also allows for localities to provide the same exemption. These laws will take effect in January 2013.
Governor Cuomo enumerated benefits of these incentives, stating that the laws “demonstrate the state’s commitment to reducing energy costs, growing our green energy sector, creating jobs, and protecting the environment.” The New York legislature cited the importance of these initiatives in achieving the ambitious goal set by New York’s renewable portfolio standard of generating 30 percent of the state’s electricity using renewable sources by 2015. In 2011, 24 percent of electricity consumed in New York was produced by renewable sources.
This legislation furthers the goals of the Governor’s NY-SUN Initiative, which aims to rapidly increase solar energy generation in the state, doubling the level of photovoltaic capacity installed in 2012 and to quadruple the amount of installation in 2013 compared with 2011. These three laws represent the latest legislative tools in a larger set of policies to increase solar generating capacity including competitive grants financing large-scale commercial solar projects and noncompetitive grants funding smaller scale residential projects.
For more information:
Climate Techbook: Solar Power
Capitol Confidential: Future Brightens for Solar Power Thanks to Legislation