SALEM, Ore., and ALBANY, N.Y. - Both Oregon and New York state recently put new legislation in place to offer tax credits and sales tax exemptions for solar energy systems.

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed a bill into law that will provide expanded tax credits for solar energy systems. The state already had a tax credit in place for alternative energy systems; that credit was based on the energy produced during the system's first year of operation and capped at $1,500. The new solar electric system tax credit is much larger, at $3 per watt of installed output capacity, up to a maximum of $6,000. The credit is limited to half of the installed cost of the solar electric system and expires in 2016.

The bill will take effect on November 4, and will provide a strong incentive when matched with funds from the Energy Trust of Oregon. The Energy Trust announced in July that its solar incentives had already yielded more than one megawatt of solar power in the state over the past three years.

In New York state, solar energy systems became exempt from state sales taxes on September 1. New York Governor George Pataki signed a bill in August that exempts both the sale and installation of the equipment from state sales and compensating use taxes, and allows municipalities to waive their city sales taxes as well. The governor also signed a separate bill that extends the state's personal income tax credit for solar energy systems to include systems used for water heating and space heating or cooling. The credit applies to 25 percent of the cost of buying and installing solar energy equipment, and now has a cap of $5,000, up from $3,750.

Publication date: 09/19/2005