Seize State Incentives

May 20, 2013
Discover the various programs that spur projects statewide.

The Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State (ECCCNYS) sets the minimum requirements for energy-efficient buildings. To go above and beyond that baseline, you may need outside motivation.

A host of New York state incentives are listed at www.dsireusa.org to galvanize the installation of your energy-slashing, go-green initiatives.

Here is a rundown of the most popular examples so you can decide which pertain to your facility.

Solar Sales Tax Exemption
Enacted in August 2012 but effective for commercial properties only beginning this year, this state incentive exempts the entire sale and installation of your solar project from local sales tax.

The exemption applies to systems that utilize solar radiation to produce energy for heating, cooling, hot water, and/or electricity. The exemption does not apply to solar pool heating or other recreational applications.

To earn credit, your project requires authorization. The law also allows municipalities and counties to grant exemption from local sales taxes. Reach out to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to learn more.

For more on PV installations, see “Top 3 Considerations for Rooftop PV.”

Municipal Sustainable Energy Programs
This Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing incentives applies to lighting, HVAC, and envelope equipment. It also includes renewable technologies like solar, biomass, and geothermal.

PACE financing effectively allows property owners to borrow money to pay for energy improvements. The terms of the incentive are that loan amounts may not exceed 10% of the appraised real property value or cost of the qualified improvements, and other terms are locally determined.

The amount borrowed is typically repaid via a special assessment on the property over a period of years. The law also allows counties and cities to offer sustainable energy loan programs.

Loans may be used to pay for energy audits; cost-effective, permanent energy efficiency improvements; renewable energy feasibility studies; and the installation of renewable energy systems.

In order to qualify, energy audits or feasibility studies must be performed by a contractor certified to standards set by NYSERDA or by a local government under standards at least as stringent.

Solar Feed-in Tariff
The Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) Solar Initiative Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program provides fixed payments for electricity produced by approved PV periods over a fixed period of time. The program went into effect in July 2012 and is set to expire in June 2014 or until the 50 mW cap is reached.

The program operates under the arrangement that the full amount of energy production from the facility is sold to the utility. It offers a 20-year contract at a rate of $0.22/kWh.

Systems from 50 kW to 20 mW that were not connected to the grid before July 16, 2012, are eligible to participate. Facilities that enroll in LIPA’s solar rebate programs are not.

Applications are processed through LIPA’s existing Small Generator Interconnections Procedures (SGIP). Please see the program website at www.lipower.org for further information.

Real Property Tax Exemption for Green Buildings
New York enacted legislation in July 2012 allowing municipal corporations (counties, towns, cities, and villages) to exempt green buildings from real property taxes.

In order to qualify, the new construction or improvement must have commenced after the beginning of 2013, be valued in excess of $10,000, and the project must meet LEED, Green Globes, ANSI, or substantially equivalent green building certification standards.

Although the law allows rating systems other than LEED, the incentive amounts are described in terms of LEED certification levels. The percentage of exemption permitted varies by year and type of certification achieved.

Aside from actually earning a certification, the exemption must be approved by the local assessor prior to taking effect.

Solar, Wind, and Biomass Energy Systems Exemption
The New York State Real Property Tax Law provides a full 15-year exemption for solar, wind energy, and farm-waste energy systems constructed in the state. However, the law is local option, meaning that local governments are permitted to decide whether or not to allow it.

The exemption is currently set to expire on Dec. 31, 2014, but some form of it has been available since 1988. In 2002, it was expanded to include farm-waste energy systems, which includes biogas produced by anaerobic digestion of the agricultural waste such as livestock manure and food processing rubbishes.

To learn what qualifies and if your area has disallowed the exemption, reach out to the public information officer of the Office of Real Property Tax Services or visit www.tax.ny.gov.

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