The sun provides clean and inexhaustable energy. Solar energy can be used in homes, businesses and municipal buildings to create electricity with solar photovoltaic (solar PV) panels, or to heat water. With passive solar design, homes can also be designed maximize the light and warmth they capture from the sun in the winter, while avoiding being overheated by sunlight in the summer.
On Long Island, electricity demand peaks in the summer when air conditioners are in use, so solar PV can reduce the need for more fossil fuel burning plants to be built to meet peak demand.
Suffolk County Eliminates Sales Tax on Solar PV Systems
Gordian Raacke, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Long Island; Steve Levy, Suffolk County Executive; Chris Castro, owner of Solymar, a LIPA-certified solar installer, and Neal Lewis, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Network at Suffolk County's announcement of the solar sales tax exemption.
On August 23, 2005, the Suffolk County Legislature voted to eliminate the County sales tax on solar PV systems. New York State had already enacted a law that removes the State portion of the sales tax on solar PV effective September 1, and allows municipalities to "opt in" and exempt solar pv from sales tax entirely. Suffolk is the first county in the State to opt in, the County law becomes effective December 1, 2005. A similar bill has been introduced in the Nassau Legislature.
Solar PV systems can significantly reduce a home's electricity bills, however the up-front cost of the systems discourages many homeowners from installing them. In combination with LIPA rebates, and income tax credits from New York State and the Federal government, this sales tax exemption makes the initial investment in solar PV more economically viable for many homeowners.
On October 1st, 2005, you can take a self guided tour to see solar power in use on Long Island, and speak with homeowners who have installed solar systems. The National Solar Tour and Green Buildings Open House is organized locally on Long Island by Renewable Energy Long Island (RELI) and the LIPA Clean Energy Initiative.
The Long Island Power Authority's Solar Pioneer Program offers homeowners and businesses a rebate of $4.00 per watt on solar PV systems up to 10 kilowatts. Typical home solar PV systems are approximately 3 to 7 kilowatts, and the LIPA rebate covers roughly half the cost of such systems. Municipalities, schools and not-for-profit organizations are offered a $5.00 per watt rebate.
New York State offers an income tax credit of 25% of the purchace cost of solar PV systems, up to a maximum credit of $3,750. Tax credits are subtracted from tax due, not from taxable income as deduction are. Recent legislation extends the tax credit to solar hot water systems as of January 1, 2006, and increases the credit ceiling to $5,000 as of September 1, 2006.
The recently adopted Federal Energy Bill gives a 30% Federal income tax credit on the purchase of both solar pv and solar hot water systems installed in 2006 and 2007. The maximum federal credit is $2,000.