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Syracuse Common Councilors Pressure Governor to Approve Tax Breaks for Geothermal Energy Systems

Chris Bolt/WAER News

Syracuse Common Councilors lent their voices Tuesday to a push to make a renewable energy technology more affordable. Environmentalists are joining with elected officials to have the state take another step to reduce climate change.

Lots of people seem to be in favor of a tax break for geothermal systems...except maybe Governor Cuomo. Both the New York State Assembly and Senate approved a credit of up to $5,000, but Cuomo has yet to sign it. Syracuse Common Councilors unanimously passed their own resolution urging the Governor to grab his pen. Councilor Jean Kessner says the support falls in line with other actions the city has taken.

“We are very glad to ask the Governor to sign this very logical common sense bill,” Kessner says. “Give people a tax credit for doing the right thing. Their homes will be warm and they will be cool and it will all be done with the least damage to the environment possible. 

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Heat exchangers as part of a geothermal system at the Pike Block building in Syracuse

The technology involves digging pipes in the ground using the consistent temperature down in the earth to significantly reduce heating and cooling costs - and reliance on fuels such as coal, oil or gas to do so. Supporters estimate as much as 35 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels to heat buildings. Renee Vogelsang with New Yorkers for Clean Power offers ore financial reasons to enact the law.

“At the end of this year we’re seeing a 30 percent tax credit disappear on the federal level, ” Vogelsang says. “This is why it’s so crucial that this tax credit bill reach a governor desk and is signed and that we are taking it seriously, our greenhouse gas reduction.”

Credit Scott Willis/WAER News
The pipes that go underground into a brine aquifer under Salina Street to support the geothermal system of the Pike Block Buidling

New York has a goal of reducing greenhouse emissions 40 % by the year 2030. Installers at Tuesday's vote say about a thousand people are employed in the field and the tax credit would help preserve or grow those good-paying positions. The tax credit would be for 25 percent of a system's cost - typically $20,000 to $30,000 for a home --up to $5,000. 

Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News
Common councilors, a state senator and assembly member show support for the state tax credit for geothermal energy systems.

Budget concerns could be what's holding the governor up.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.