The Suffolk County Legislature has just made it easier for businesses in the county to apply for loans for renewable energy projects.
On Nov. 17, the legislature voted unanimously to authorize the county to become a municipal member of the Energize NY program, a measure spearheaded by South Fork Legislator Jay Schneiderman.
Through the program, the Energy Improvement Corporation (EIC), a not-for-profit local development corporation, will act on behalf of the county to provide loans to commercial and non-profit property owners for the installation of renewable energy systems. EIC will assist in the implementation of the program and will help facilitate financing for qualified property owners.
“By joining the EIC, the county will enable commercial property owners to make energy efficiency improvements and install solar panels and other renewable energy systems with no up-front investment,” said Mr. Schneiderman in a press release issued this week. “Under this program, the annual energy savings must exceed the annual cost of the low-interest loan in order to qualify. This creates an economic incentive for businesses to upgrade to energy efficient and renewable energy systems.”
Energize NY provides qualified property owners with long-term financing with interest rates that range from 4 to 6 percent, depending on the terms of the loan. The financing is repaid through an annual charge that will be placed on the county portion of the property owner’s tax bill, which automatically transfers to a new owner if the property is sold.
The county’s responsibility is to collect, enforce and submit this charge to Energize NY.
Most existing commercial and not-for-profit buildings are eligible for this program, including multi-family, commercial and industrial, retail and mixed use, private schools and colleges, agricultural facilities, houses of worship and other institutional buildings.
Energize NY will review proposed projects to confirm that the improvements are cost-effective for the property owner and are expected to generate an estimated annual cost savings greater than the annual finance payments.
Eligible clean energy improvements include a range of energy efficiency measures, including efficient lighting, insulation and air sealing, efficient heating and cooling systems, smart controls, energy storage as well as renewable energy systems such as solar electric, wind turbines, biomass and geothermal systems.
Eligibility for Energize NY financing is based on the property’s potential to save energy and proof that the property owner is current on its mortgage and real property taxes for the last three years.
New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele sponsored the state legislation that authorized municipalities like Suffolk County to create this sustainable energy loan program.
“We are very excited that Suffolk County has voted to join our program to realize the many benefits of reducing energy waste in local buildings and delivering energy savings to their residents,” said Mark Thielking, executive director of Energize NY. “It makes financial sense for every commercial building owner in Suffolk County to evaluate their building’s potential for energy savings through energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements.”
More information on applying for the program is online here.