NYC’s Bloomberg Signs Geo Feasibility Legislation

New York City Mayor Bloomberg signed IN-694-A, legislation that will require the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability to study geothermal energy resources and the feasibility of developing them in New York City. The Long Island Geothermal Energy Organization (LI-GEO) was the primary driver of the legislation. LI-GEO’s territory currently includes Nassau, Suffolk and Queens Counties on Long Island, but extends statewide in many cases.

The study will include a summary of building characteristics suitable for retrofit installations of geothermal systems; a summary of federal, state, and city regulations regarding geothermal heat pumps; and a map that identifies areas of the city that would be appropriate for geothermal energy development. The study will also make recommendations to promote geothermal heating and cooling in new construction, alterations, and retrofits of buildings.

LI-GEO Works Hard for GHPs
The LI-GEO Standards and Codes Committee is actively working with the Suffolk County Planning Com-mission (SCPC) to develop a “fast-tracked permitting program” for straightforward, small to moderate sized geothermal systems. A similar program was previously developed for small PV and wind systems. The final geothermal platform under development will be available to various municipalities to adopt into their own permitting processes.

LI-GEO was instrumental in supporting Long Island Power Authority’s decision to reinstate prescriptive rebates for commercial geothermal heat pump systems. The utility offers rebates of up to $1,500 per ton of heat pump capacity. LI-GEO is also working to clarify how geothermal systems should be permitted and inspected in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Besides their fast-track permitting effort, the association will work with SCPC to develop a uniform, model geothermal code that municipalities can adapt as universal standards and procedures for quality installations.

At the state level on Jan. 9, New York State Sen. Maziarz and Assembly Member Jaffee introduced identical bills, Senate Bill S01343 and Assembly Bill A01411, which would exempt geothermal heat pump equipment and associated materials from sales and use tax. This incentive is already in place for Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system installations, and has proven beneficial in fostering the Solar PV indus-try in the state. LI-GEO anticipates a similar boost in business for geothermal heat pumps after these bills become law. Both bills are currently in committee awaiting approval before a full House vote.

The LI-GEO Legislative Committee’s next goal is to propose legislation that will grant renewable energy status to geothermal heat pumps, and extend the same individual state income tax credit for geothermal systems that currently applies to homeowners who install solar PV systems (25% of total costs with a limit of $5,000).