Senator Flanagan Sponsors Alternative Energy Incentives
With the recent announcement of the increasing Long Island population and the corresponding need to utilize alternate sources of energy, Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District) announced that he has sponsored legislation that would deliver relief from energy costs to homeowners. The proposal was part of a comprehensive energy package, which was passed in the Senate, which would provide relief from energy costs to small businesses and homeowners across Long Island.
Senator Flanagan’s legislation calls for an alternative energy property tax exemption which would assist Long Island land owners in converting to alternative energy sources. The legislation would continue a program that will give localities and school districts the option of offering a full or partial real property tax exemption to land owners who utilize alternative energy systems such as wind and solar power.
"With the recent announcement by the Long Island Power Authority that over 2.8 million now call Long Island home, the time is now for the region to utilize alternative sources of energy. By using tax incentives to further encourage interested homeowners to utilize these available sources, we can provide enough of an incentive for our region to begin the conversion. This legislation provides local taxing entities with another option for providing sensible property tax relief to their residents and I am hopeful that the Assembly will join us in passing this environmentally friendly law," stated Senator Flanagan.
Due to lack of Assembly passage of an extender, this exemption option expired at the beginning of 2006. Senator Flanagan’s legislation would be retroactive to the beginning of the year and would provide this tax exemption until at least 2011.
Senator Flanagan also voted to support a variety of other energy cost assistance which were approved and sent to the Assembly for further action:
SENIOR HEAT: To assist senior citizens in paying their energy costs, Senator Flanagan cosponsored the "Senior Heat" program which would provide $200 rebate checks to those who are eligible. This funding would be available to seniors who are approved for the enhanced STAR school property tax rebate program which is open to those 65 and over with an annual income of $64,500 or less.
The plan would supplement seniors who rent by providing a $100 refundable state tax credit for those who pay for their heat. In total the program would deliver an estimated $140 million to more than 64,000 New York state seniors.
The Senate also is requesting the federal government increase the contingency funding for the low income Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). New York State has received $15 million in 2005-06 contingency HEAP funding, compared to $42.4 million in contingency funding in 2004-05.
Senator Flanagan last week voted to approve the allocation of an additional $100 million in emergency funds for the Home Energy Assistance Program to ensure that seniors and low-income New Yorkers are able to afford to heat their homes this winter.
GASOLINE TAX CAP: Senator Flanagan cosponsored legislation that would save consumers an estimated $240 million annually in gasoline taxes. The legislation would cap the state and local taxes if the price of a gallon of gasoline rises above $2 per gallon.
The state savings of the plan would generate approximately $120 million in savings for consumers. The cap covers the local tax share on gasoline purchases, unless a locality opts out of the plan, for an additional savings of $120 million.
ENERGY STAR SAVINGS AND ENERGY CONSERVATION TAX FREE WEEKS - Senator Flanagan cosponsored an elimination of the state sales tax on energy saving materials. The items, such as high efficiency windows, doors, weather-stripping, pipe sheathing and alternative energy systems in or attached to a building such as wind power or fuel cells.
The legislation would also provide four sales tax free weeks on a variety of energy star products, such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, furnaces and hot water heaters. The tax free weeks would be spread throughout the year with one occurring during each season of the year and are estimated to save taxpayers $40 million a year.
ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLES: The Senate passed legislation that would extend an alternative fuel vehicle tax credit through the end of the current year. The credit would apply to actual alternative fuels such as methanol, ethanol and fully electric vehicles and also reestablish a state sales tax exemption for the purchase of refueling property equipment.
This legislation is estimated to provide over $3 million in tax credits for New York drivers.
SMALL BUSINESS JOB DEVELOPMENT: To help continue job creation, Senator Flanagan cosponsored a proposal that will assist businesses who employ fewer than 20 employees afford their energy costs. This $350 million dollar refundable tax credit idea would help over 386,000 businesses statewide who employ over 1.4 million New York residents.
To help these companies remain competitive, the state would deliver a credit on energy usage which would be applied directly to eligible businesses’ tax liability. Businesses that do not owe taxes would receive a rebate check.
The entire Senate package also calls for eliminating the Petroleum Business Tax on nonresidential heating fuel for an additional savings of $7 million per year.
BUSINESS TAX CREDIT FOR ALTERNATIVE ENERGY EQUIPMENT: The Senate package included a tax credit for businesses that install alternative energy equipment such as wind, solar or fuel cells. If approved by the Assembly and signed into law, this tax credit would save New York State businesses $15 million a year.
"This is a package for all Long Island residents. We have a growing economy, a growing population and we need to have a continually evolving answer to our energy needs. The reliance on fossil fuels needs to be controlled and these tax incentives would encourage interested residents to make the shift to alternative fuels," concluded Senator Flanagan.
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