FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 15, 2012
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)
Westchester Legislators Streamline Solar Energy Installations for Home and Building Owners
White Plains, NY – The Westchester County Board of Legislators unanimously approved new legislation at its regular meeting this week to streamline the process for home and building owners to install solar energy systems. The bill, which was introduced and spearheaded by Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), chair of the BOL’s Government Operations Committee, relieves solar panel and solar heating installers and contractors from needing to obtain a Westchester County home improvement license before doing work in the county.
Installers of photovoltaic devices and solar heating systems will still need to hold appropriate certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) for work in Westchester, however.
The new BOL legislation, when signed by County Executive Robert P. Astorino, will allow licensed electrician and plumbers in Westchester who also have NABCEP certification to offer financial incentives for solar installations.
“I am grateful for the full support of my colleagues on the Board for passing this legislation because it will benefit county residents and business owners in both the short- and long-term,” said Borgia. “Instead of creating another layer of licenses for solar installers, we will be encouraging more contractors to enter this field of work, thus creating green jobs while making solar energy more affordable.”
Borgia added that no county in New York is known to have addressed the issuance of licenses for solar energy contractors in significant depth. Presently, New York State includes the installation of solar energy systems in its definition of “home improvement.” In Westchester, home improvement licenses carry a biannual fee of $300.
“The expense and burden of obtaining licenses for work like solar installations too often affects small and independent business owners,” said Borgia. “Workers wanting to get into solar installation will now have a clear certification path to follow.”
Research shows that there are currently twelve states and two municipalities in the U.S. that require or recommend NABCEP certification for solar energy contracting. The majority of these states, including New York, require that the contractor have NABCEP certification in order to obtain incentives or state rebates to help finance the project.
“I congratulate Legislator Borgia for her work in streamlining the regulatory process and cutting the red tape for licensed contractors to install solar systems,” said BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah).
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