NYC Councilman Jim Gennaro Meets, Allies with LI-GEO

Recently, an alliance of sorts has been formed between NYC Councilman (CM) Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), his staff and members of LI-GEO. CM Gennaro represents New York City’s 24th Council District located in Queens and chairs the Council Committee on Environmental Protection. It began when CM Gennaro and his legal counsel Samara Swanston attended the April 10, 2013 LI-GEO monthly meeting in Uniondale. (Pictured at left are CM James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), his legal counsel, Samara Swanston, Patti Posillico, member of the LI-GEO Board, and John Franceschina, President of LI-GEO.)

They were invited by LI-GEO Board Member John Rhyner, who has been assisting CM Gennaro’s staff since June 2012 in drafting language of a new NYC geothermal bill that the Councilman brought to the City Council.

The bill, Int. 0694-A, directs the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability to perform a study on the feasibility of increased deployment of geothermal systems in New York City. The day before the April 10 meeting, City Council unanimously approved the bill, 49-0.  Within days of the LI-GEO meeting, on April 23, the Councilman was celebrating the signing into law of the bill by Mayor Bloomberg.

At the April 10 LI-GEO meeting, CM Gennaro and Ms. Swanston talked about the bill and CM Gennaro’s interest in supporting geothermal heating and cooling systems in NYC and LI. A motivating factor behind CM Gennaro’s promotion of geothermal technology was the NYC Department of Design and Construction’s issuance of an update of the NYC Geothermal Heat Pump Manual: A Design and Installation Guide for New York City, which was co-authored by LI-GEO Board Member John Rhyner.

The day before the April LI-GEO meeting, the City Council unanimously approved the bill, 49-0, and on April 23 Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the bill into law. Attending the signing were LI-GEO’s John Rhyner and GEO-NII’s Jack DiEnna. (See photo below.)

Mayor Bloomberg signing NYC Bill 694-A on April 23, 2013

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signing important new Geothermal Legislation for New York City on April 23, 2013. From left to right are CM James Gennaro, Mayor Bloomberg, Alex Posner, NYCDDC Office of Sustainable Design and David Burney, Commissioner of NYCDDC.

official signing group photo

Mayor Bloomberg and individuals who assisted with execution of Int. 694-A, the “geothermal bill.” From left to right are Samara Swanston, LI-GEO Board Member John Rhyner, Jack DiEnna, Geothermal Heat Pump National & International Initiative, Inc. (GEO-NII), Annie Wilson, Sierra Club, CM Jim Gennaro, Mayor Bloomberg, Alex Posner, NYCDDC Office of Sustainable Design, David Burney, Commissioner of NYC DDC, Isabelle Silverman, Environmental Defense Fund, Bob Wyman and Rick Bell, Executive Director AIA New York. The mayor is holding a copy of the updated Geothermal Heat Pump Manual: A Design and Installation Guide for New York City co-authored by LI-GEO’s John Rhyner.

You may view the press conference of the signing at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XUj6wFuWJE&feature=youtube_gdata. Two other bills precede the geothermal bill, which is 9:45 into the video.

At the request of LI-GEO members, CM Gennaro’s staff has begun to draft legislation for a NYC Council resolution in support of the Albany legislation Senate Bill S01343 and Assembly Bill A01411, which would exempt geothermal system materials from sales and use tax.

This is an incentive that already exists for Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system installations, and has proven beneficial in fostering the Solar PV industry at every level. LI-GEO anticipates a similar boost in business once these bills pass. Currently both are in committees awaiting approval before full house votes. See Legislative Update for more information about these bills and what you can do to encourage their passing.

In addition, CM Gennaro and his staff have shown interest in supporting the LI-GEO legislative committee’s next goal of amending the Green Jobs/Green New York program. Our plan is to propose legislation to grant Renewable Energy status to geothermal heat pump systems and to extend the same NYS individual income tax credit for geothermal systems that currently apply to homeowners who install solar PV systems (25% of total costs with a limit of $5,000).