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Lower City Permit Fees to Encourage Green Projects

Would Help Entice Solar Investments

City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley introduced legislation last week to help homeowners throughout New York City invest in “green” building practices, such as solar panels and geothermal heat pumps.

The bill, introduced last Wednesday, Apr. 25, would eliminate permit and filing fees for owners of smaller residential buildings that invest in green technologies. Owners who invest in measures that increase energy and water efficiency, enhance green infrastructure or advance environmental innovation in one to four family homes will no longer be subject to the fees that the city previously collected from these types of projects.

Even though renewable energy is cleaner, cheaper, and more sustainable than fuel, Crowley noted, the cost of installation can often be a difficult financial barrier for homeowners to overcome.

Currently, a single homeowner looking to install new technology, such as solar panels, can expect to see a return on their investment in about 10 years. The cost of installation can sometimes reach over $30,000 dollars.

In New York, the legislator stated, installers will see a 30 percent federal rebate, a maximum state rebate of $5,000 and a $12,000 rebate through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. After these incentives, homeowners could pay just upwards of $5,000 for the total installation, and would see a return on their investment in the form of electric bill saving in just as little as six years.

However, $5,000 is still a tremendous investment for many, and while tax credits are helpful in the longterm, Crowley observed, there is still a need to make these technologies more affordable at the time of installation.

As the cost of gasoline continues to surge and the city’s population continues to grow, she stated that the need for alternative sources of energy is more evident than ever. Green technologies, such as solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy and energy from biomass are renewable, nearly pollution free and excellent ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing the initial installation fee will help consumers invest in energy sources that meet the city’s demands and contribute to the nation’s energy independence, Crowley pointed out.

“In order to secure our nation’s energy independence and protect the environment, we must commit to more innovative green technologies and business practices,” Crowley said. “The first step toward that is making it easier and more affordable for each of us to ‘go green’ in our own homes. Ultimately, this bill will reduce costs for homeowners, improve the quality of air and create more manufacturing and construction jobs here in New York City.”

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