New York Governor George Pataki today unveiled a comprehensive, multi-faceted plan to encourage the production and use of renewable fuels in New York, promote the expanded use of energy-efficient cars and vehicles, and spur new renewable energy research and job creation in the state.
Pataki will include most of the plan in the executive Budget he will introduce tomorrow.
Specific elements of the plan include:
Elimination of all state taxes on renewable automobile fuels such as E85 (85% ethanol) and B20 (20% biodiesel).
Creation of new renewable fuel stations across the state. A new $5-million program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), will provide competitive grants to gas stations to install or convert pumps so they can dispense E85 and B20 fuels. These grants of up to $50,000, along with existing tax incentives at the Federal level of up to $30,000, will help spur the creation of an infrastructure to accommodate vehicles that run on renewable fuels. In addition, the New York State Thruway Authority will install or convert pumps at all 27 of its Travel Plazas to make renewable fuels easily accessible to drivers across the State. More than 180,000 cars and trucks currently registered in New York State are flexible fuel vehicles able to run on gasoline or E85.
In addition, the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will send direct mail advisories to all owners of alternative-fuel vehicles registered in the State, informing them of their ability to utilize renewable fuels in their vehicles. DMV also will develop a statewide map of renewable fueling locations and provide it to these vehicle owners so they can easily locate stations that provide alternative fuels.
$20M program to promote development of cellulosic ethanol. The State Department of Agriculture and Markets will administer a new $20 million program that would lead to the development of a pilot cellulosic ethanol facility in New York.
Creation of a new renewable fuel production tax credit. This new tax credit would provide New York companies that make renewable fuels a tax credit for each gallon of fuel produced., providing up to $1 million in tax savings annually per facility.
Creation of a new hybrid vehicle tax credit. This new state tax credit would provide a $2,000 personal income tax credit to individuals who purchase new hybrid, alternative flex-fuel vehicles to help defray the higher costs associated with the purchase of these vehicles. This measure is expected to provide $5 million in tax savings this year and $10 million in subsequent years when fully in place.
Discounted thruway tolls for hybrid vehicles. The Governor has directed the New York State Thruway Authority to create a new Green E-Z pass, which will provide a 10% discount for drivers of fuel-efficient vehicles, such as hybrids that average at least 45 mpg and meet certain EPA emissions standards.
New HOV lanes access for alternative-fueled vehicles. This new initiative will allow cars and other vehicles that average at least 45 mpg and meet certain EPA emissions standards to use HOV lanes in New York City and on the Long Island Expressway regardless of the number of occupants in the vehicle.
Program to promote production of Flex-Fuel and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles. A new, $10-million competitive grant program will provide support to companies with research or production facilities in New York that are working to develop flex-fuel hybrids or plug-in hybrids.
Alternative-Fuel Vehicle Research Lab. NYSERDA and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will collaborate on a new $24-million laboratory that will support the development and manufacture of clean and renewable energy technologies for transportation. This facility, to be located in the Saratoga Technology and Energy Park (STEP) in Malta, will conduct research and testing of new and improved fuels, batteries and pollution-control devices, including plug-in hybrids, hydrogen vehicles, renewable fuels, emerging distributed generation, and thermally-activated technologies.
New Program to Develop Advanced, Energy-Saving Technologies for Vehicles. A new $10- million program will support the research and manufacturing of lightweight car/vehicle parts, which will reduce overall weight of the vehicles and improve fuel mileage. The program will also promote the development and deployment of the next generation of motor vehicle technologies, such as high capacity hybrid vehicle batteries. The program will include competitive grants to attract start-up companies to locate or expand in New York State.
Research and development of hydrogen vehicles. NYSERDA will administer a $5-million program to continue the development of a hydrogen vehicle infrastructure and conduct research to convert internal combustion vehicles to be able to use hydrogen as fuel.
New tax-free benefits for Clean Energy Companies Tax Credit. The Empire Zones program will be expanded to give qualifying clean energy companies all of the benefits of Empire Zones, regardless of where the company is located. These benefits include tax-reduction credits, real property tax credits, sales tax exemptions, wage tax credits, and utility rate reductions among others and the benefits can reduce a company’s tax liability to as little as zero. This measure would essentially make the entire State a tax-free zone for clean energy companies that create jobs in New York.
Promotion of advanced clean coal power plants. State agencies and authorities will collaborate over a five-year period to identify shovel-ready sites for the development of Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plants. (IGCC plants gassify coal, and the use coal gas and steam to spin power-generating turbines.) Under this program, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) will provide $50 million to a private sector power generator(s) who agrees to host research and development of new technologies that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to climate change. NYPA will also buy power from this facility. Existing brownfield properties would receive priority consideration during the siting process.
The plans also includes a number of initiatives to provide assistance to the elderly and low-income families to pay rising energy bills as well as to encourage the purchase of more energy-efficient appliances.
Those 65 years of age or older with incomes of up to $75,000 can receive a refundable personal tax credit of up to $500 for the cost of fuel for heating their principal residence. The credit would equal 25% of home heating expenses when a senior’s total heating expenses exceed 7.5% of income.
The State will provide up to $50 million in supplemental benefits to help families meet rising energy costs, if the Federal government does not increase funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This funding would increase to $250 million the amount provided under LIHEAP to New York each year.
The Budget will propose a new $500 income tax credit to homeowners who purchase and install high-efficiency heating equipment. This credit will be equal to up to 50% of the cost of replacement or renovation of a home heating system.
The Budget will propose two new sales tax-free weeks for ENERGY STAR products, encouraging consumers to purchase energy-efficient light bulbs, air conditioners, refrigerators, and other household appliances.
New York State currently invests nearly $300 million annually in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.