In a measure that will lower costs and provide a big benefit for firms interested in solar power, a bill exempting the sale and installation of commercial solar energy systems from sales and use taxes has passed both houses of the state Legislature.
The bill would give commercial systems the same tax-exempt status that residential solar systems already have, potentially shearing thousands of dollars off the cost of commercial projects.
Since commercial systems typically are larger than residential, the exemption is expected to provide a bigger benefit and a boost to companies interested in going solar. Local municipalities also can eliminate their portion of sales tax, providing an even bigger incentive, reducing pollution, lowering demand for electricity from the power grid and helping companies cut costs.
“We can simultaneously create new jobs and achieve the goals set for New York state’s electricity needs through clean renewable energy and improved energy efficiency,” said Assemblyman Steve Englebright, D-Setauket. ”But we must provide incentives like sales tax exemptions to encourage businesses to install solar energy systems just as we have done with homeowners.”
The solar industry hailed the legislation as an important step forward in efforts to promote commercial solar power, which has become increasingly popular as a way for companies to cut their electric bills. Although solar power initially began to catch on with residents, it has gained traction at least in part due to incentives among companies, which often have far higher electricity costs.
“The elimination of the sales tax improves on an already attractive proposition of solar energy for small and large businesses alike,” said Sail Van Nostrand, chairman of the Long Island Solar Industries Association and owner of Energy by Choice. “This bill will result in a statewide expansion of solar systems on commercial properties, creating jobs and economic growth while improving our environment for future generations.”
Englebright said the decision to exempt commercial projects from state sales tax should increase installation of commercial solar energy systems and help the state meet its renewable energy goals by 2015. “A commercial solar energy sales tax exemption will also help to stimulate and rebuild our economy, create green collar jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil while addressing climate change and protecting our environment,” Englebright said.
Long Island Business News, article by Claude Solnik, June 26, 2012