Senator Jim Alesi (R/C-Perinton) today announced that the Senate passed a comprehensive energy plan that would provide $350 million in relief from energy costs to small businesses to help them create and retain jobs. Like millions of New York homeowners, small businesses have cited high energy costs as a significant problem that is hurting their bottom lines.
In addition to passing legislation to help small businesses, the Senate passed an energy initiative that builds on the recent $100 million increase in the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) by providing heating assistance to more senior citizens, capping the State taxes on gasoline and encouraging energy conservation and development of alternative energy sources to lessen New York’s dependence on foreign oil.
"When utility prices are so high that an employer must choose between paying the electric bill or paying an employee’s salary; than we have a major problem," said Senator Alesi. "The energy plan passed today will not only help small businesses cope with rising energy prices, but it will provide relief to all citizens in their everyday lives, from heating their homes to driving their cars."
Highlights of the energy plan include:
Energy Cost Relief for Small Business- Legislation provides a $350 million tax credit tied to their energy costs. This legislation would help 386,000 small businesses (under 20 employees) in New York. Also under the plan, a credit of two cents per Kilowatt Hour (KwH) would be applied directly to eligible business’ tax liability, while businesses that do not owe taxes would receive a rebate check. The benefit level of two-cents per kilowatt hour approximates the rate benefit provided under the Power for Jobs program, which Senator Alesi championed in 2000 and has proven to be one of the State’s most important economic development programs.
Helping with Home Heating- This legislation goes beyond the $100 million HEAP increase enacted earlier this week. This initiative provides $140 million of direct energy rebates to 640,000 seniors by providing $200 rebate checks to eligible senior citizen homeowners and $100 refundable tax credits to seniors who rent and pay for heat.
Cap on Gas Taxes- This legislation places a cap on the State and local sales taxes on gasoline that would save consumers roughly $240 million annually. The initiative caps the State and local sales tax on gasoline at a taxable value of $2 per gallon. If gas prices stay at the current state average of $2.60, the cap would save motorists an estimated $120 million in State sales taxes. The cap covers the local sales tax on gas unless a local government votes to opt out of the cap. If all localities participate, the plan would generate another $120 million in savings.
Encouraging Alternative Fuels- This legislation provides manufacturers of qualified bio-fuel products, primarily ethanol and bio-diesel, with a refundable tax credit. The credit would be 15 cents a gallon, capped at $2.5 million per plant, per year, for up to four years.