May 18, 2012
New York

Tompkins opts out of renewable-energy incentives

Written by Andrew Casler | | 15 May 2012

ITHACA – The Tompkins County Legislature opted out of state incentives for increases in property value due to installations of renewable energy systems.

The law is a move to establish taxation methods for a planned large wind farm. If the exemption were still in place, the county would have no way to tax the wind farm once construction began.

The resolution on the matter passed Tuesday with a 10-4 vote, with legislators Carol Chock, D-City of Ithaca, Dooley Kiefer, D-Lansing, Pamela Mackesey, D-Town and City of Ithaca, and Frank Proto, R-Caroline, voting against. Legislator Nathan Shinagawa, D-City of Ithaca, was absent.

Kiefer explained her vote, saying it was because she wished to modify the law.

The wind farm, Black Oak Wind Farm, a 20-megawatt facility, is planned for completion late 2012 in Enfield.

The local law blocks property owners from taking advantage of state tax exemptions in their county taxes for property value increases due to renewable energy system installations. However, preexisting tax exemptions, filed before the May 15 vote, should be honored.

Legislature Chairwoman Martha Robertson, D-Dryden, clarified the county’s intention with this vote.

“Our intention is to encourage renewable energy systems in residences,” she said. “It is perfectly legal and appropriate” for the county to opt back into the exemption once PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) negotiations with Black Oak Wind Farm are complete.

According to the Tompkins County Department of Assessment Director Jay Franklin, properties in the county are not seeing property value increase due to renewable energy system installations.

Joseph Sliker, president of Renovus Energy, a renewable energy system installation company in Ithaca, attended Tuesday’s meeting. Sliker said renewable energy installations do increase property values, and other governments have developed ways to calculate that increase.

“Solar brings value to a house, and you should absolutely be realizing that value on a tangible local level,” Sliker said. “There has got to be some way of forging forward on it that can give local homeowners reassurance that they will not be punished for installing solar.”

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