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City and state officials urge Cuomo to quit delaying renewable energy tax credit

State Assemblyman Al Stirpe speaks on the steps of Syracuse City Hall in support of tax credits for geothermal energy. (Provided photo)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- State and city lawmakers joined forces this week to support tax breaks for producers and consumers of geothermal energy.

The Syracuse Common Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign into law a 25 percent tax credit for geothermal energy. State leaders joined councilors afterward to repeat the call to Cuomo.

The state Senate and Assembly passed a bill that would offer a tax credit for geothermal energy at the end of the 2016 legislative session. The bill awaits Cuomo's signature. The governor has not yet asked to be presented with the bill.

The bill gives a 25 percent tax credit -- up to $5,000 -- to homeowners to install geothermal heating and cooling systems. Those systems include a series of pipes that generate and store energy from the ground. It is a renewable energy source.

In January, Cuomo vetoed similar tax breaks for geothermal energy. Cuomo has until the end of this year to sign the new bill.

Bill Nowak is executive director of NY-GEO, a geothermal trade group. He said his organization has been trying to schedule a meeting with Cuomo but has been unsuccessful. The advocacy group has held press conferences in Buffalo and Rochester, but Syracuse is the first city to involve local politicians in the fight.

Geothermal energy is currently subject to federal tax breaks. Those expire at the end of this year and Congress has not extended them. Advocates in New York are seeking a statewide tax credit that would replace the expiring federal credit.

Nowak said the breaks being sought for geothermal mirror existing credits for solar energy.

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