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Local Option - Solar, Wind and Biomass Energy Systems Exemption

Savings Category 
Solar Water Heat
Program Info
Start Date 


New York
Program Type 
Property Tax Incentive
Rebate Amount 

100% exemption for 15 years (unless local jurisdiction has opted out)

Office of Real Property Tax Services

Section 487 of the New York State Real Property Tax Law provides a 15-year real property tax exemption for solar, wind energy, and farm-waste energy systems constructed in New York State. As currently effective, the law is a ''local option'' exemption, meaning that local governments are permitted decide whether or not to allow it. The exemption was mandatory prior to a 1990 reenactment in which the local option clause was added. The exemption is valid unless a government opts out of the exemption, as opposed to the more common practice of requiring governments to "opt-in" in order to offer an exemption.

As originally created, the exemption was limited to solar and wind energy systems, but in September 2002, it was expanded (S.B 6592) to include farm-waste energy systems. These are defined as systems and related equipment that generate electric energy from biogas produced by the anaerobic digestion of agricultural waste -- such as livestock manure, farming waste and food processing wastes. The maximum rated system capacity for eligible farm-waste energy systems is 400 kilowatts (kW) and systems must be connected to the electric grid and operated in accordance with the state's net metering law (Public Service Law 66-j) in order to qualify. S.B. 5966A enacted in July 2006 extended the previous December 31, 2006 in-service deadline to December 31, 2010, and A.B. 10875 enacted in August 2010 further extended the deadline until December 31, 2014.

The exemption applies to systems that are (a) existing or constructed prior to July 1, 1988 (mandatory), or (b) constructed subsequent to January 1, 1991, and prior to January 1, 2015 (local option). The law intends to encourage the installation of solar, wind and farm-waste energy equipment systems and to ensure property owners that their real property taxes will not increase as a result of the installation of these systems. The amount of the exemption is equal to the increase in assessed value attributable to the solar, wind or farm-waste energy system. The definition of solar includes passive solar heating systems such as mass wall and direct gain systems. In the case of solar pool heating, solar energy collection, control, and distribution equipment is eligible; however, the pool itself does not qualify as a storage medium or otherwise. The exemption applies only to general municipal and school district taxes; it cannot be applied to special assessments or special ad valorem levies.

With respect to systems constructed after January 1, 1991, and before January 1, 2015, each county, city, town, village and school district (except the city school districts of New York, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers) may choose whether to disallow the exemption. The option must be exercised by counties, cities, towns and villages through adoption of a local law and by school districts through adoption of a resolution. Click [ here] for a list of local bodies that have opted not to offer the exemption. Alternately, a local government that has not opted out of the exemption is permitted to require the property owner to enter into a contract for payments in lieu of taxes, not to exceed the amount payable without the exemption.

Eligibility definitions and guidelines solar, wind-energy, and farm waste energy equipment have been issued by the New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and are available above or on the program website.