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A new report said tax changes in the proposed state budget would benefit the state and local communities, and accelerate the move to renewable energy. (Panumas/Adobe Stock)

By Andrea Sears, Public News Service

March 30, 2021

ALBANY, N.Y. — A new report showed standardizing property tax assessment for renewable-energy projects would create tens of thousands of jobs and billions in revenue.

The report, released by the Alliance for Clean Energy New York and the New York Solar Energy Industry Association (NYSEIA), said tax standardization proposed in the state budget would increase local tax revenue by speeding up the process of getting renewable-energy projects to construction.

Shyam Mehta, executive director for NYSEIA, said it would bring an increase of up to $348 million from payments in lieu of taxes to local governments across the state over the lifetimes of the projects.

“In addition to that, significant secondary benefits from increases in revenue from job creation as well as business sales,” Mehta asserted.

He contended standardization could generate more than 20,000 jobs and increase business sales by up to $11.6 billion dollars.

Some local governments fear it would take away their control of the assessment and approval process.

Mehta noted municipalities have raised concerns that creating statewide tax-assessment standards for clean-energy projects would result in lower local tax revenue and a loss of local autonomy.

“In both cases, the answer is no,” Mehta argued. “If a locality doesn’t want to site a project, they can still push back. Nothing in this proposal prohibits them from doing that.”

He added property-tax standardization is also critical to meeting clean-energy goals mandated by New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Mehta pointed out the proposal was included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget and the State Senate’s budget bill, but was left out of the budget bill in the Assembly.

“We are fighting to make sure that this proposal does end up being passed along with the budget,” Mehta stressed. “But it’s definitely far from being in the clear at this particular moment.”

The budget is due April 1.