ALBANY, N.Y. - New York Gov. David Paterson signed a legislative package that will encourage the installation of grid-connected solar and wind power systems, as well as green roofs. Most of the bills relate to net metering, which allows homeowners and businesses to earn credit for any excess power that they feed back into the electric grid.

Senate Bill 7171 expands net metering to include non-residential solar power systems up to 2 megawatts in capacity, or equal in size to the customer’s peak load, whichever is less, and increases the maximum solar power system size for residential customers to 25 kilowatts, up from 10 kilowatts. S. 7171 also requires each utility to develop a model contract and reasonable rates, terms, and conditions for net metering of non-residential customers, and to develop safety standards for interconnecting these customers. It also includes a requirement for an external disconnect switch, which is rarely needed for modern grid connection equipment.

Senate Bill 8481 applies similar changes to net-metered wind power generators, allowing farms to net meter wind turbines as large as 500 kilowatts, up from 25 kilowatts, and expanding net metering of wind turbines to include non-residential customers, who can net meter wind turbines as large as 2 megawatts or the customer’s peak load, whichever is less. As with S. 7171, S. 8481 requires utilities to develop model contracts and reasonable rates, terms, and conditions for non-residential customers wishing to net meter their wind turbines.

Two additional bills relate to tax abatements for buildings in New York City with solar power systems and green roofs. S. 8145 creates a four-year real property tax abatement of up to $62,500 per year for building owners that install solar power systems, with a greater tax abatement available for systems installed before 2011, and a lesser tax abatement for systems installed in 2011 or 2012. S. 7553 creates a similar tax abatement for buildings that install green roofs, which are rooftops covered with vegetation. The one-year tax abatement applies to buildings that cover at least half of their rooftop space with vegetation and is equal to $4.50 per square foot of green roof, up to the tax liability on the building or $100,000, whichever is less. The green roof tax abatement is in effect from 2009 through 2013. Both laws apply only to properties located in cities with populations of one million or more, which limits them to New York City.

Publication date:08/25/2008