Albany, New York [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] With energy prices skyrocketing across the nation, New York State’s Governor George E. Pataki announced broad energy plans aimed at cushioning the impact of energy prices on state consumers and homeowners. Building upon the Governor’s support of clean energy, the plans include an emphasis on renewable energy technologies.In unveiling the plan, the Governor said it is vital that New York take action to minimize the current impact of high fuel prices, increase the use of renewable energy, and develop a long-term strategy to lower the State’s dependence on foreign fossil fuels. He noted that high home heating oil prices threaten seniors and needy families on limited incomes, while elevated gas prices hurt all consumers and have a negative impact on New York’s business community and ability to create jobs. “This energy plan not only offers immediate energy savings for residents and businesses, but also sets a course that will improve energy efficiency and help us to decrease our dependence on foreign fossil fuels,” Pataki said. “New York is a national leader in the use of renewable energy, but we remain susceptible to individual and economic impacts of rising energy costs. In light of the current energy situation, I call on the Legislature to join me in renewing our commitment to improve energy efficiency and diversify our energy supplies so that New York will be less vulnerable to energy price volatility.” The Governor also noted that the Federal government passed an energy bill this year that provides some valuable incentives to promote greater energy efficiency and use of renewable fuels. However, further action is needed at the Federal level, in conjunction with State efforts, to provide long-term solutions to decrease our dependence on foreign oil supplies. The Governor’s Strategic Energy Action Plan includes assistance to offset higher expected heating bills this coming fall and winter. Details can be found at the link following the story. Measures promoting energy efficiency, and renewable energy, however, follow in the bullet points below. — Tax Credit for Upgrades to Home Heating Systems – A refundable Personal Income Tax credit, up to $500, would be offered to homeowners for 50 percent of the costs related to the upgrade or renovation of a residential home heating system. This credit would provide $25 million in annual savings to homeowners. — Sales Tax Free Week for Energy Star – To encourage home energy conservation, two sales-tax-free weeks would be offered for the purchase of energy-efficient Energy Star appliances, weather stripping, caulk, or insulation. This is similar to a proposal in the Governor’s 2005-06 Executive Budget. This is expected to save consumers $3 million this fiscal year, and $6 million annually in subsequent fiscal years. — Tax Credit for Alternative Vehicles – Similar to a proposal in this year’s Executive Budget, the State would provide a refundable tax credit for individuals or corporations that purchase hybrid vehicles. The tax credits, up to $4,000 depending on vehicle weight, would be limited to individuals with incomes under $150,000. The State would also provide a credit for clean-fuel equipment installed in a motor vehicle other than a hybrid vehicle. This clean-fueled vehicle credit would be up to $10,000 depending on vehicle weight. The estimated cost-savings for consumers is $10 million annually. — Incentives for Alternative Fuel Production – Originally proposed by the Governor in his 2005-06 Executive Budget, the State would offer a bio-fuel production tax credit, up to $1 million per taxable year, for costs associated with constructing a bio-fuel facility, or producing or storing bio-fuel. — Bulk Purchasing of Electricity – The Governor also called for legislation, similar to a proposal in this year’s Executive Budget, that would authorize the State Office of General Services (OGS) to buy electricity directly on the open market for use by the State and localities, and to supply alternative fuels to these entities. The bulk purchasing and energy supplies would create additional opportunities for overall energy cost-savings. OGS currently uses bulk purchasing of gasoline and heating fuel to provide cost-savings for the State, localities and schools. — HOV Lanes for Alternative-Fueled Vehicles – The Governor has proposed a measure to increase energy efficiency by allowing alternative-fueled vehicles to utilize High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes regardless of the number of passengers in the vehicle. This is another incentive to promote the purchase of hybrid and other alternative-fueled vehicles. For more information, see the following link.