Governor Cuomo has signed into law a bill that extends real property tax breaks for installing electricity-generating solar panels on New York City buildings effective September 23, 2014.

The new law extends the existing incentive program to January 1, 2017.  Further, the new law doubles the possible tax breaks as compared to the existing incentive program from 2.5 percent to 5 percent of eligible installation expenditures.  Although the cost of installing electricity-generating solar panels in New York City is higher than in most other cities due to stringent city regulations, the new law aims to offset those higher costs. 

Eligible properties include most homes, co-ops, condominiums, rental buildings, and commercial and industrial properties.  Specifically, if the solar electric generating system is placed in service on or after January 1, 2014 and before January 1, 2017, the amount of the tax abatement will be the lesser of 5 percent of eligible solar electric generating system expenditures, the property taxes payable the year that the solar panels are installed, or $62,500.  Eligible solar electric generating system expenditures include reasonable expenditures for materials, labor costs properly allocable to on-site preparation, assembly and original installation, architectural and engineering services, and designs and plans directly related to the construction or installation of the solar electric generating system.

Under Governor Cuomo, New York is trying to establish itself as a national leader in the solar industry, and is on pace to do so.  “In just three years, New York has gone from a couple hundred rooftops with solar panels statewide to cracking the top ten states in solar installations nationwide,” said Kit Kennedy, Clean Energy Counsel at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in New York.  This extension, combined with the NY-Sun Initiative, has created one of the greatest market opportunities for solar power in the United States and investors, developers, and sponsors are taking note.