What is the tax rebate for solar panels in NYC?

As a solar panel installer I have to admit that even Eco Brooklyn sometimes gets confused. The rebates expire, then get reinstated and expire again.

Here is the current tax rebate agreement. Check out the text in red. This is in effect until January 1st 2015.

 

http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?sh=printbill&bn=A10620&term=2011[2/7/2013 11:51:36 AM] S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________
10620
I N A S S E M B L Y
June 8, 2012
___________
Introduced by COMMITTEE ON RULES — (at request of M. of A. Farrell) —
read once and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means
AN ACT to amend the real property tax law, in relation to a solar electric
generating system tax abatement for certain properties in a city
of one million or more persons
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEMBLY,
DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
1 Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 499-bbbb of the real property tax
2 law, as added by chapter 473 of the laws of 2008, is amended to read as
3 follows:
4 1. The amount of such tax abatement shall be as follows:
5 (a) if the solar electric generating system is placed in service on or
6 after the effective date of this title and before January first, two
7 thousand eleven, for each year of the compliance period such tax abate-
8 ment shall be the lesser of (i) eight and three-fourths percent of
9 eligible solar electric generating system expenditures, (ii) the amount
10 of taxes payable in such tax year, or (iii) sixty-two thousand five
11 hundred dollars; or
12 (b) if the solar electric generating system is placed in service on or
13 after January first, two thousand eleven, and before January first, two
14 thousand thirteen, for each year of the compliance period such tax
15 abatement shall be the lesser of (i) five percent of eligible solar
16 electric generating system expenditures, (ii) the amount of taxes paya-
17 ble in such tax year, or (iii) sixty-two thousand five hundred dollars;
18 OR
19 (C) IF THE SOLAR ELECTRIC GENERATING SYSTEM IS PLACED IN SERVICE ON OR
20 AFTER JANUARY FIRST, TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN, AND BEFORE JANUARY FIRST,
21 TWO THOUSAND FIFTEEN, FOR EACH YEAR OF THE COMPLIANCE PERIOD SUCH TAX
22 ABATEMENT SHALL BE THE LESSER OF (I) TWO AND FIVE-TENTHS PERCENT OF
23 ELIGIBLE SOLAR ELECTRIC GENERATING SYSTEM EXPENDITURES, (II) THE AMOUNT
24 OF TAXES PAYABLE IN SUCH TAX YEAR, OR (III) SIXTY-TWO THOUSAND FIVE
25 HUNDRED DOLLARS.
EXPLANATION–Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
[ ] is old law to be omitted.
LBD16199-01-2
A. 10620 2
1 S 2. Subdivision 1 of section 499-cccc of the real property tax law,
2 as added by chapter 473 of the laws of 2008, is amended to read as
3 follows:
4 1. To obtain a tax abatement pursuant to this title, an applicant must
5 file an application for tax abatement, which may be filed on or after
6 January first, two thousand nine, and on or before March fifteenth, two
7 thousand [thirteen] FIFTEEN.
8 S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

Renewable Energy Plan for New York

Let’s convert New York State’s energy infrastructure into something more sustainable. It’s a simple concept, with a multitude of benefits.  Converting to renewable energy will stabilize costs of energy and  produce jobs while reducing health and climate damage and overall improving the quality of life.

A recent study by Mark Z. Jacobson et al. finds that it is technically and economically feasible to convert the fossil fuel energy infrastructure in New York State to one that is supplied entirely by wind, water, and solar power. The use of natural gas is argued against due to the dangerous hydraulic fracturing process and the air pollution produced.  The proposed plan provides the largest possible reductions in air and water pollution, and global warming impacts.

Jacobson and scientists from Cornell University and the University of California-Davis have proposed the first fully developed plan to fulfill all sectors (transportation, electric power, industry, and district heating and cooling) of New York State’s energy demands with renewable energy. Additionally, they calculated the number of new jobs created, amount of land and ocean areas required, and policies needed for an infrastructure change of this magnitude. It also provides calculations of air pollution mortality and morbidity impacts and costs based on multiple years of air quality data.

While a wind, water, and solar conversion will result in high initial capital costs, they will be made up over time due to the elimination of fuel costs. Overall, New York State’s end-use power demand will decrease by roughly 37% and create 58,000 permanent jobs with job exchange predicted. It is estimated that 4.5 million temporary jobs would be created during construction phase.

The researchers propose that New York’s 2030 power demand for all sectors could be met by:

4,020 onshore 5-megawatt wind turbines

12,770 offshore 5-megawatt wind turbines

387 100-megawatt concentrated solar plants

828 50-megawatt photovoltaic power plants

5 million 5-kilowatt residential rooftop photovoltaic systems

500,000 100-kilowatt commercial/government rooftop photovoltaic systems

36 100-megawatt geothermal plants

1,910 0.75-megawatt wave devices

2,600 1-megawatt tidal turbines

7 1,300-megawatt hydroelectric power plants, of which most exist

To ensure grid reliability, the plan outlines several methods to match renewable energy supply with demand and to smooth out the variability of WWS resources. These include a grid management system to shift times of demand to better match with timing of power supply, and “over-sizing” peak generation capacity to minimize times when available power is less than demand. The plan also includes a solution to the current protocol of shutting down facilities during times of overproduction that includes the sale of surplus.

Currently, almost all of New York’s energy comes from imported oil, coal, and gas. This new plan looks to supply 40 percent of NY’s energy from wind power, 38 percent from solar, and 22 percent from a combination of hydroelectric, geothermal, and tidal and wave energy. All of these sources will be located in, or offshore of, New York State.

All vehicles will be replaced with battery-electric vehicles (BEV), hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCV) and BEV-HFCV hybrids. Electricity-powered air- and ground-source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps, heat exchangers and backup electric resistance heaters would replace natural gas and oil for home heating and air-conditioning. Air- and ground-source heat pump water heaters powered by electricity and solar hot water preheaters would provide hot water for homes. High temperatures for industrial processes would be obtained with electricity and hydrogen combustion.

Jacobsen et al. have provided a comprehensive and all inclusive energy alternative for New York State that boasts a sustainable, inexpensive and reliable energy supply that will creates local jobs and save the state billions of dollars in pollution-related costs.

As a small ny green contractor most of these projects are currently too large for us to handle. But the large projects are not the only place to make an impact. Our focus on energy efficient building reduces the need for energy in the first place. Also, micro sustainable energy production such as a photovoltaic installation on a warehouse or home is certainly something we could do. Such decentralized energy sources reduce the load on the grid and in turn create back up options should the central grid go down.

 

New Green City: A key element to Green design and construction.

On a beautiful fall day in early October, Eco Brooklyn, a New York City green contractor, took to the South Plaza of Union Square in downtown Manhattan to check out New Green City, an event hosted by GrowNYC.  The event hosted many contributors, ranging from non-profits and schools to entrepreneurs, government agencies, and corporate sponsors.  All sharing programs, services, products, and insights as to how to make New York City, New Green City through solar, wind, and agricultural terms. The tents were wide spread over the south side of Union Square, with a large crowd through most of the afternoon. 

Two really great tents were Ethikus, a online community of ethical and sustainable shoppers, that also offers deals and discounts to these great local shops in downtown Manhattan, and The New School’s Eco-Lectures focusing on sustainable foods, Eco-Farms and solar energy, giving out great information these subjects. With a ton of other great tents thanks to GrowNYC,  everyone in New York should take advantage of these great green companies.

Aside from the goal of a New Green City, at Eco Brooklyn we believe that the ultimate goal should be a total green city, built from the ground up with recycled and reused materials, and making zero energy homes.  Although the companies at New Green City don’t specialize in building, they do make great strides in lowering energy use and continuing the discussion of green policy, which are things that can not wait but happen immediately. Not only did New Green City bring together lots of outsiders to the green movement, but also created the opportunity for great minds in the green industry to collaborate, furthering our knowledge and reach as a green community. Eco Brooklyn will definitely have a tent next time, or next year, but until then, these are great ideas and options for making NYC a greener place.

Solar Panels, An Example in Green Considerations

The process of building green is different than normal building. There are new considerations to include in the mix.

Here is an example. Solar PV is a smart choice in NY I think. NY gets a lot of sun and although a Californian electrician might scoff at it, most NY professionals think it is a good move.

Now with NYCERTA incentives it makes a lot more sense because they will eventually pay back a lot of your up front costs, which are hefty. But to get their money you need to have a NYCERTA installer do the job, and they are not the cheapest. Of course they would argue they are higher quality and on average they are. But they also have a cornered market and that drives up their price too.

So you have to pay a lot to get some money back. Fair enough.

On average the difference between a non NYCERTA certified installer and NYCERTA install is not greater than the benefit of getting the NYCERTA money. So it makes sense to go with NYCERTA.

But then there is the option of getting second hand panels. Solar panels are like computers and cars: the moment you take them out of the store they drop in value. Which means you can get deals. The problem is that many NYCERTA installers will not go for this. You never know what you’re getting with second hand stuff.

But the cost you save with second hand makes it more attractive to go with a cheaper non certified installer. Now you can get a good system at lower cost. You don’t get NYCERTA or state funding but quite possibly your up front costs are much lower and so are your overall costs.

The drawback is that you are getting second hand panels which are hard to find, come with no guarantee and aren’t as powerful as the new ones. Since they aren’t as powerful you need to buy more of them, which take up space and more money.

So it is a balancing act.

BUT there is more to the equation. Solar panels are green. Recycling is green. Recycling solar panels is so green it’s not even funny! And for me this is very attractive. And by green I don’t mean “I’m cool” I mean, saving energy, saving air, saving materials, and ultimately saving the planet. And this ain’t morality, this is common sense.

Here are some second hand panels I am considering. Once I find out how powerful they are I will get them. :



Adding Solar gain and recyclables to Facade


Above: Facade with planter and recycled joists.

Originally the top facade of the building had a lot of rotted wood. And there was a great view. So in the heat of the summer I tore down the wall and planned on adding a wall of glass. It would have been magnificent.

But then as the cooler weather came I came to my senses and realized the large window was on the north side. To have it would be a huge heat drain on the house. I basically made a colossal mistake. This is green building 101.

So I took the windows I had already bought for the space and put them on the south side of the house. This creates a very powerful passive heating element as the sun pours into the house and heats it. Solar gain to the max.

Then I was faced with doing something with the gaping hole on the north side. Some of the old slate had been broken when we took down the wall so we had a problem. We didn’t have enough slate to built it back nor could we buy similar stuff. Do we take down the rest of the remaining slate and replace it or what? Taking it down is so not green.

So I decided to get a little artsy and use the slate we have for the lower part of the facade. For the upper part we are going to create siding out of salvaged wood joists. We are going to shape it in a “V” shape and at the base of the V we will put a large planter that will collect the water from the siding above it.

The planter will be made of two triangular sides attached to the facade to create a harmony of triangular shapes with the larger triangle formed by the siding.

Even though the planter box will be very well insulated and one of its three sides will be against a heated house we will use plants that don’t need sun or warmth since the cold winds can be harsh up there. Water probably won’t be an issue since we’ll use water retaining materials in the earth.

The planter will help insulate the north wall, provide greenery, allow us to recycle old joists and keep the existing slate. This is a great example of green building.

Pre Construction:
The truly green thing would have been to repair the damaged wood and leave the windows as they are in this picture. But in the heat of renovation we got these grand ideas to make a wall of glass. Being in an environment you love is green to but not at the expense of wasted energy when you can have just as nice windows but on the south side….

And so we tore the facade off:

But then we realized our mistake and tore the south wall down to put the already ordered windows there. The sun shines in wonderfully making a fantastic space and heating us up. In the summer this heat can be a problem so we plan on having good passive ventilation, blinds, and solar panels above the windows that will also act as awnings when the sun’s angle is high in the sky during the summer months. During the winter months the sun’s angle will be low enough to pass under the panels.
The south opening:

Solar Tax Credits Extended

After a disastrous few weeks on Wall Street, the renewable energy industry has come out a winner. It seems there’s always a silver lining in even the worst developments.

The long-awaited extension of the Production (PTC) and Investment Tax Credits (ITC) were finally passed as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424) and have now been signed into law by President Bush. The tax credit package, which is the same that passed the Senate on September 24, will extend the PTC for one year and the ITC for eight years. The extensions would be at least partially paid for by a change in the tax code for the oil and gas industry. The bill also contains removal of the US $2,000 cap for residential solar installations.

Good News for Solar

We’re entering a new era of solar energy.

Congress just passed historic solar legislation that will increase the use of solar energy all across US, and the President signed it into law. HR1424 extends the 30% solar tax credit for eight years and removes the $2000 monetary cap for residential solar electric installations.

This is a tremendous accomplishment, and is the result of many months of grassroots advocacy by the solar community, including our colleagues at Solar Energy Industries Association.

“This bill is a major step in our long journey toward energy independence and ensures that solar energy will be a significant part of America’s energy future,” said SEIA president Rhone Resch. “This long-term extension of the solar tax credits will create a domestic solar industry with hundreds of thousands of jobs while providing clean, affordable, carbon-free energy to millions of American families, businesses, and communities.”

Not only will this help families combat skyrocketing energy costs and generate thousands of green-collar jobs — but it will help homeowners save thousands of dollars to make solar energy even more affordable.

The timing is good because the National Solar Tour kicks off this weekend, making now the perfect time to learn more about solar energy. Mark your calendar!

Solar Panel Considerations

Solar Panels for creating home electricity have come a long way. They are cheaper and last longer than before.

Photovoltaic systems now have expected lifetimes of 20 years and more, with manufacturers offering system and individual component warranties. Contractors are also offering warranties on installation and extended service agreements.

Even in the absence of additional financial incentives, photovoltaic systems are currently available in the market place for between $5,000 and $10,000 per kilowatt. For a 4 kW residential package system, it is not unusual to see bids in the range of between $28,000 and $40,000, completely installed and operational.

Available systems include photovoltaic roofing shingles and stand-alone modules in a wide variety of configurations.

Financial incentives such as low interest loans, federal and state tax credits, grants, special utility incentives, and technical assistance are available to help offset the cost of purchasing and installing photovoltaic systems.

These incentives vary from state to state and from region to region. The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy, available at http://www.dsireusa.org/, is an excellent resource for learning about incentives available in your area.

In NY the incentives are very good. NYCERTA governs those regulations.

It is becoming more and more attractive to install solar in NY homes.