Suffolk County, NY
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable. Uncodified sections of local laws amending these provisions are included at the end of this chapter.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 344.
Home improvement and repair — See Ch. 517.
[Adopted 11-17-2015 by L.L. No. 38-2015]
[Amended 12-5-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2018; 6-5-2018 by L.L. No. 17-2018]
This Legislature hereby finds and determines that it is the policy of both the County of Suffolk and the State of New York to achieve energy efficiency and renewable energy goals, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate the effect of global climate change and advance a clean-energy economy. This Legislature also finds and determines that Suffolk County can further these policy goals by providing property-assessed clean energy financing to property owners for the installation of renewable energy systems and energy-efficiency measures. This Legislature further finds and determines that this article would establish a program that will allow the Energy Improvement Corporation, a local development corporation, acting on behalf of the County of Suffolk, pursuant to the municipal agreement to be entered into between the County and Energy Improvement Corporation ("EIC") pursuant to Article 5-G of the New York General Municipal Law, to make funds available to qualified property owners that will be repaid by such property owners through charges on the real properties benefited by such funds, thereby fulfilling the purpose of this article and fulfilling an important public purpose. This Legislature also finds that the County of Suffolk is authorized to implement this sustainable energy loan program, known as "Energize NY Benefit Financing Program," pursuant to Article 5-G of the New York General Municipal Law. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to establish a sustainable energy loan program in the County of Suffolk.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AUTHORITY
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), as defined by Subdivision 2 of § 1851 of the Public Authorities Law, or its successor.
COUNTY
County of Suffolk, State of New York.
EIC
The Energy Improvement Corporation, a local development corporation, duly organized under § 1411 of the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law, authorized hereby on behalf of the County to implement the Energize NY Benefit Financing Program by providing funds to qualified property owners (as defined in this article) and providing for repayment of such funds from monies collected by the County tax collecting officer as a charge to be levied on the real property and collected in the same manner and same form as the County property taxes.
[Amended 12-5-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2018; 6-5-2018 by L.L. No. 17-2018]
ENERGY AUDIT
A formal evaluation or "assessment" of the energy consumption of a permanent building or structural improvement to real property, conducted by a contractor certified by the Authority, or certified by a certifying entity approved by the Authority, for the purpose of identifying appropriate energy-efficiency improvements that could be made to the property.
ENERGY-EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENT
Any renovation or retrofitting of a building to reduce energy consumption, such as window and door replacement, lighting, caulking, weather-stripping, air sealing, insulation, heating and cooling system upgrades, and similar improvements, determined to be cost-effective pursuant to criteria established by the Authority, not including lighting measures or household appliances that are not permanently fixed to real property.
QUALIFIED PROPERTY OWNER
An owner of residential or commercial real property located within the boundaries of the County that is determined to be eligible to participate in the Energize NY Benefit Financing Program under the procedures for eligibility set forth under this article.
RENEWABLE ENERGY SYSTEM
An energy-generating system for the generation of electric or thermal energy, to be used primarily at such property, except when the qualified property owner is a commercial entity, in which case the system may be used for other properties in addition to the subject property, by means of solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, wind, geothermal, anaerobic digester gas-to-electricity systems, fuel cell technologies, or other renewable energy technology approved by the Authority, not including the combustion or pyrolysis of solid waste.
[Amended 12-5-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2018]
RENEWABLE ENERGY SYSTEM FEASIBILITY STUDY
A written study, conducted by a contractor certified by the Authority, or certified by a certifying entity approved by the Authority, for the purpose of determining the feasibility of installing a renewable energy system.
[Amended 12-5-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2018]
A. 
An Energize NY Benefit Financing Program is hereby established by the County, whereby EIC, acting on its behalf, pursuant to the municipal agreement, may provide funds to qualified property owners in accordance with the procedures set forth under this article, to finance the acquisition, construction and installation of renewable energy systems and energy-efficiency improvements and the verification of the installation of such systems and improvements.
B. 
For funds provided to a qualified property owner which is a commercial entity, not-for-profit organization, or entity other than an individual, EIC shall have the authority to impose requirements on the maximum amount of funds to be provided, which may consider factors including, but not limited to, the property value, projected savings, project costs, and existing indebtedness secured by such property.
C. 
For financings made to a qualified property owner who is an individual, the funds provided shall not exceed the lesser of (i) 10% of the appraised value of the real property where the renewable energy systems and/or energy-efficiency improvements will be located, or (ii) the actual cost of installing the renewable energy systems and/or energy-efficiency improvements, including the costs of necessary equipment, materials, and labor and the cost of verification of such systems and improvements.
A. 
Any property owner in the County may submit an application to EIC on such forms as have been prepared by EIC and made available to property owners on the website of EIC and on the Suffolk County government website.
B. 
Every application submitted by a property owner shall be reviewed by EIC acting on behalf of the County, which shall make a positive or negative determination on such application based upon the criteria for making a financing application enumerated in § 444-5 of this article. EIC may also request further information from the property owner where necessary to aid in its determination.
[Amended 6-5-2018 by L.L. No. 17-2018]
C. 
If a positive determination on an application is made by EIC acting on behalf of the County, the property owner shall be deemed a qualified property owner and shall be eligible to participate in the Energize NY Benefit Financing Program in accordance with the procedure set forth under § 444-6 of this article; provided that in no case shall a property owner that has received funds from another municipal corporation for the acquisition, construction and installation of energy-efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy systems be deemed a qualified property owner.
[Amended 12-5-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2018; 6-5-2018 by L.L. No. 17-2018]
Upon submission of an application, EIC, acting on behalf of the County, shall make a positive or negative determination on such application based upon the following criteria for the making of a financing:
A. 
The proposed energy-efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy systems are determined to be cost effective based on guidelines issued by the Authority;
B. 
The property owner may not be in bankruptcy and the property may not constitute property subject to any pending bankruptcy proceeding;
C. 
The amount financed under the Energize NY Benefit Financing Program shall be repaid over a term not to exceed the weighted average of the useful life of renewable energy systems and energy-efficiency improvements, to be installed on the property as determined by EIC;
D. 
Sufficient funds are available from EIC to provide financing to the property owner;
E. 
The property owner is current in payments on any existing mortgage;
F. 
The property owner is current in payments on any existing real property taxes and has been current on real property taxes for the previous three years; and
G. 
Such additional criteria, not inconsistent with the criteria set forth above, as the County, or EIC acting on its behalf, may set from time to time.
[Amended 12-5-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2018]
A. 
A qualified property owner may participate in the Energize NY Benefit Financing Program through the execution of an Energize NY Finance Agreement made by and between the qualified property owner and EIC, acting on behalf of the County (the "Energize NY Finance Agreement").
B. 
Upon execution of the Energize NY Finance Agreement, the qualified property owner shall be eligible to receive funds from EIC, acting on behalf of the County, for the acquisition, construction, and installation of qualifying renewable energy systems and energy-efficiency improvements; provided the requirements of § 444-7 of this article have been met.
C. 
The Energize NY Finance Agreement shall include the terms and conditions of repayment set forth under § 444-8 of this article.
A. 
No funds shall be made available for energy-efficiency improvements unless determined to be appropriate through an energy audit.
B. 
No funds shall be made available for a renewable energy system unless determined to be feasible through a renewable energy system feasibility study.
C. 
The cost of such energy audit and/or renewable energy system feasibility study shall be borne solely by the property owner but may be included in the financed amount if the work is approved.
[Amended 12-5-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2018]
The Energize NY Finance Agreement between the qualified property owner and EIC, acting on behalf of the County, shall set forth the terms and conditions of repayment in accordance with the following:
A. 
The principal amount of the funds paid to the qualified property owner hereunder, together with the interest thereon, shall be paid by the property owner as a charge on his/her real property tax bill and shall be levied and collected at the same time and in the same manner as County property taxes, provided that such charge shall be separately listed on the tax bill. The County shall make payment to EIC or its designee in the amount of all such separately listed charges within 30 days of the date payment is due to be made to the County.
B. 
The term of such repayment shall be determined at the time the Energize NY Finance Agreement is executed by the property owner and EIC, provided that in no case shall the term exceed the weighted average of the useful life of the systems and improvements as determined by EIC acting on behalf of the County.
C. 
The rate of interest for the charge shall be fixed by EIC, acting on behalf of the County, at the time the Energize NY Finance Agreement is executed by the property owner and EIC.
D. 
The charge shall constitute a lien upon the real property benefited by the Energize NY Benefit Financing Program as set forth in Article 5-L of the General Municipal Law and shall run with the land. A transferee of title to the benefited real property shall be required to pay any future installments, including interest thereon.
A. 
EIC shall be responsible for verifying and reporting to the County on the installation and performance of renewable energy systems and energy-efficiency improvements financed by such program.
B. 
The County shall verify and report on the installation and performance of renewable energy systems and energy-efficiency improvements financed by the Energize NY Benefit Financing Program in such form and manner as the Authority may establish.
This article shall apply to all actions occurring on or after the effective date of this article.
This article shall take effect 120 days after its filing in the Office of the Secretary of State.
[Adopted 6-18-2019 by L.L. No. 29-2019]
A. 
This Legislature hereby finds and determines that it is the policy of both the County of Suffolk and the State of New York (the "state") to achieve energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate the effect of global climate change, and advance a clean energy economy. This Legislature also finds and determines that the County of Suffolk finds that it can fulfill this policy by providing property-assessed clean energy financing to Qualified Property Owners (as defined below) for the installation of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency measures. This Legislature further finds and determines that a program that will allow the Energy Improvement Corporation (as defined below, "EIC"), a local development corporation, acting on behalf of the Municipality pursuant to the municipal agreement (the "Municipal Agreement") to be entered into between the County of Suffolk and EIC, to make funds available to Qualified Property Owners that will be repaid through charges on the real properties benefited by such funds, thereby fulfilling the purposes of this article and accomplishing an important public purpose. This Legislature finds that the County of Suffolk is authorized to execute, deliver and perform the Municipal Agreement and otherwise to implement this Energized NY Open C-PACE Financing Program pursuant to the Constitution and Laws of New York, including particularly Article IX of the Constitution, § 10 of the Municipal Home Rule Law, the enabling act and this article. This Legislature further finds that this article, which is adopted pursuant to § 10 of the Municipal Home Rule Law and the Enabling Act shall be known and may be cited as the "Energize NY Open C-PACE Local Law."
B. 
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to provide a method of implementing the public policies expressed by, and exercising the authority provided by, Article 5-L of the General Municipal Law (as defined below, the "Enabling Act").
A. 
Capitalized terms used but not defined herein have the meanings assigned in the Enabling Act.
B. 
For purposes of this article, and unless otherwise expressly stated or unless the context requires, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ANNUAL INSTALLMENT AMOUNT
Shall have the meaning assigned in § 444-19B.
ANNUAL INSTALLMENT LIEN
Shall have the meaning assigned in § 444-19B.
AUTHORITY
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
BENEFIT ASSESSMENT LIEN
Shall have the meaning assigned in § 444-14A.
BENEFITED PROPERTY
Qualified Property for which the Qualified Property Owner has entered into a Finance Agreement for a Qualified Project.
BENEFITED PROPERTY OWNER
The owner of record of a Benefited Property.
EIC
The Energy Improvement Corporation, a local development corporation, duly organized under § 1411 of the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law of the State, authorized hereby on behalf of the Municipality to implement the Program by providing funds to Qualified Property Owners and providing for repayment of such funds from money collected by or on behalf of the Municipality as a charge to be levied on the real property.
ELIGIBLE COSTS
Costs incurred by the Benefited Property Owner in connection with a Qualified Project and the related Finance Agreement, including application fees, EIC's Program administration fee, closing costs and fees, title and appraisal fees, professionals' fees, permits, fees for design and drawings and any other related fees, expenses and costs, in each case as approved by EIC and the Financing Party under the Finance Agreement.
ENABLING ACT
Article 5-L of the General Municipal Law of the State, or a successor law, as in effect from time to time.
FINANCE AGREEMENT
The finance agreement described in § 444-17A of this article.
FINANCING CHARGES
All charges, fees and expenses related to the loan under the Finance Agreement, including accrued interest, capitalized interest, prepayment premiums, and penalties as a result of a default or late payment and costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the Financing Party as a result of a foreclosure or other legal proceeding brought against the Benefited Property to enforce any delinquent Annual Installment Liens.
FINANCING PARTIES
Third-party capital providers approved by EIC to provide financing to Qualified Property Owners or other financial support to the Program which have entered into separate agreements with EIC to administer the Program in the Municipality.
MUNICIPAL LIEN
A lien on Qualified Property which secures the obligation to pay real property taxes, municipal charges, or governmentally imposed assessments in respect of services or benefits to a Qualified Property.
MUNICIPALITY
The County of Suffolk, a municipality of the State constituting a tax district as defined in § 1102 of the RPTL of the State.
NON-MUNICIPAL LIEN
A lien on Qualified Property which secures any obligation other than the obligation to pay real property taxes, municipal charges, or governmentally imposed assessments in respect of services or benefits to a Qualified Property Owner or Qualified Property.
PROGRAM
The Energize NY Open C-PACE Financing Program authorized hereby.
QUALIFIED PROJECT
The acquisition, construction, reconstruction or equipping of Energy Efficiency Improvements or Renewable Energy Systems or other projects authorized under the Enabling Act on a Qualified Property, together with a related Energy Audit, Renewable Energy System Feasibility Study and/or other requirements under or pursuant to the Enabling Act, with funds provided in whole or in part by Financing Parties under the Program to achieve the purposes of the Enabling Act.
QUALIFIED PROPERTY
Any real property, other than a residential building containing less than three dwelling units, which is within the boundaries of the Municipality that has been determined to be eligible to participate in the Program under the procedures for eligibility set forth under this article and the Enabling Act and has become the site of a Qualified Project.
QUALIFIED PROPERTY OWNER
The owner of record of Qualified Property which has been determined by EIC to meet the requirements for participation in the Program as an owner, and any transferee owner of such Qualified Property.
RPTL
The Real Property Tax Law of the State, as amended from time to time.
SECURED AMOUNT
As of any date, the aggregate amount of principal loaned to the Qualified Property Owner for a Qualified Project, together with Eligible Costs and Financing Charges, as provided herein or in the Finance Agreement, as reduced pursuant to § 444-19C.
STATE
The State of New York.
A. 
An Energize NY Open C-PACE Financing Program is hereby established by the Municipality, whereby EIC, acting on its behalf pursuant to the Municipal Agreement, may arrange for the provision of funds by Financing Parties to Qualified Property Owners in accordance with the Enabling Act and the procedures set forth under this article, to finance the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, and installation of Qualified Projects and Eligible Costs and Financing Charges approved by EIC and by the Financing Party under the Finance Agreement. EIC, on behalf of the Municipality, and with the consent of the Benefited Property Owner, will record a Benefit Assessment Lien on the Benefited Property in the Secured Amount (the "Benefit Assessment Lien") on the land records for the Municipality. Such recording shall be exempt from any charge, mortgage recording tax or other fee in the same manner as if recorded by the Municipality.
B. 
Before a Qualified Property Owner and a Financing Party enter into a Finance Agreement which results in a loan to finance a Qualified Project, repayment of which is secured by a Benefit Assessment Lien, a written consent from each existing mortgage holder of the Qualified Property shall be obtained, permitting the Benefit Assessment Lien and each Annual Installment Lien to take priority over all existing mortgages.
A. 
Any property owner in the Municipality may submit an application to EIC on such forms as have been prepared by EIC and made available to property owners on the website of EIC and at the Municipality's offices.
B. 
Every application submitted by a property owner shall be reviewed by EIC, acting on behalf of the Municipality, which shall make a positive or negative determination on such application based upon the criteria enumerated in the Enabling Act and § 444-16 of this article. EIC may also request further information from the property owner where necessary to aid in its determination.
C. 
If a positive determination on an application is made by EIC, acting on behalf of the Municipality, the property owner shall be deemed a Qualified Property Owner and shall be eligible to participate in the Program in accordance with § 444-17 of this article.
Upon the submission of an application, EIC, acting on behalf of the Municipality, shall make a positive or negative determination on such application based upon the following criteria for the making of a financing:
A. 
The property owner may not be in bankruptcy and the property may not constitute property subject to any pending bankruptcy proceeding;
B. 
The amount financed under the Program shall be repaid over a term not to exceed the weighted average of the useful life of Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements to be installed on the property as determined by EIC;
C. 
Sufficient funds are available from Financing Parties to provide financing to the property owner;
D. 
The property owner is current in payments on any existing mortgage on the Qualified Property;
E. 
The property owner is current in payments on any real property taxes on the Qualified Property; and
F. 
Such additional criteria, not inconsistent with the criteria set forth above, as the State, the Municipality, or EIC acting on its behalf, or other Financing Parties may set from time to time.
A. 
A Qualified Property Owner may participate in the Program through the execution of a Finance Agreement made by and between the Qualified Property Owner and a Financing Party, to which EIC, on behalf of the Municipality, shall be a third-party beneficiary (the "Finance Agreement"). Upon execution and delivery of the Finance Agreement, the property that is the subject of the Finance Agreement shall be deemed a "Benefited Property."
B. 
Upon execution and delivery of the Finance Agreement, the Benefited Property Owner shall be eligible to receive funds from the Financing Party for the acquisition, construction, and installation of a Qualified Project, together with Eligible Costs and Financing Charges approved by EIC and by the Financing Party, provided the requirements of the Enabling Act, the Municipal Agreement and this article have been met.
C. 
The Finance Agreement shall include the terms and conditions of repayment of the Secured Amount and the Annual Installment Amounts.
D. 
EIC may charge fees to offset the costs of administering the Program and such fees, if not paid by the Financing Party, shall be added to the Secured Amount.
The Finance Agreement shall set forth the terms and conditions of repayment in accordance with the following:
A. 
The principal amount of the funds loaned to the Benefited Property Owner for the Qualified Project, together with Eligible Costs and Financing Charges approved by EIC and by the Financing Party, shall be specially assessed against the Benefited Property and will be evidenced by a Benefit Assessment Lien recorded against the Benefited Property on the land records on which liens are recorded for properties within the Municipality. The special benefit assessment shall constitute a "charge" within the meaning of the Enabling Act and shall be collected in annual installments in the amounts certified by the Financing Party in a schedule provided at closing and made part of the Benefit Assessment Lien. Said amount shall be annually levied, billed and collected by EIC, on behalf of the Municipality, and shall be paid to the Financing Party as provided in the Finance Agreement.
B. 
The term of such repayment shall be determined at the time the Finance Agreement is executed by the Benefited Property Owner and the Financing Party, not to exceed the weighted average of the useful life of the systems and improvements as determined by EIC, acting on behalf of the Municipality.
C. 
The rate of interest for the Secured Amount shall be fixed by the Financing Party in conjunction with EIC, acting on behalf of the Municipality, as provided in the Finance Agreement.
A. 
Upon the making of the loan pursuant to the Finance Agreement, the Secured Amount shall become a special Benefit Assessment Lien on the Benefited Property in favor of the Municipality. The amount of the Benefit Assessment Lien shall be the Secured Amount. Evidence of the Benefit Assessment Lien shall be recorded by EIC, on behalf of the Municipality, in the land records for properties in the Municipality. Such recording shall be exempt from any charge, mortgage recording tax or other fee in the same manner as if recorded by the Municipality. The Benefit Assessment Lien shall not be foreclosed upon by or otherwise enforced by the Municipality.
B. 
The Finance Agreement shall provide for the repayment of the Secured Amount in installments made at least annually, as provided in a schedule attached to the Benefit Assessment Lien (the "Annual Installment Amount"). The Annual Installment Amount shall be levied by EIC, on behalf of the Municipality, on the Benefited Property in the same manner as levies for municipal charges, shall become a lien on the Benefited Property as of the first day of January of the fiscal year for which levied (the "Annual Installment Lien") and shall remain a lien until paid. The creation or any recording of the Annual Installment Lien shall be exempt from any charge, mortgage recording tax or other fee in the same manner as if recorded by the Municipality. Payment to the Financing Party shall be considered payment for this purpose. Such payment shall partly or wholly discharge the Annual Installment Lien. Delinquent Annual Installment Amounts may accrue Financing Charges as may be provided in the Finance Agreement. Any additional Financing Charges imposed by the Financing Party pursuant to the Finance Agreement shall increase the Annual Installment Amount and the Annual Installment Lien for the year in which such overdue payments were first due.
C. 
The Benefit Assessment Lien shall be reduced annually by the amount of each Annual Installment Lien when each Annual Installment Lien becomes a lien. Each Annual Installment Lien shall be subordinate to all Municipal Liens, whether created by § 902 of the RPTL or by any other State or local law. No portion of a Secured Amount shall be recovered by the Municipality, EIC, or an assignee upon foreclosure, sale or other disposition of the Benefited Property unless and until all Municipal Liens are fully discharged. Each Annual Installment Lien, however, shall have priority over all Non-Municipal Liens, irrespective of when created, except as otherwise required by law.
D. 
Neither the Benefit Assessment Lien nor any Annual Installment Lien shall be extinguished or accelerated in the event of a default or bankruptcy of the Benefited Property Owner. Each Annual Installment Amount shall be considered a charge upon the Benefited Property and shall be collected by EIC, on behalf of the Municipality, at the same time and in the same manner as real property taxes or municipal charges. Each Annual Installment Lien shall remain a lien until paid. Amounts collected in respect of an Annual Installment Lien shall be remitted to EIC, on behalf of the Municipality, or the Financing Party, as may be provided in the Finance Agreement.
E. 
EIC shall act as the Municipality's agent in collection of the Annual Installment Amounts. If any Benefited Property Owner fails to pay an Annual Installment Amount, the Financing Party may redeem the Benefited Property by paying the amount of all unpaid Municipal Liens thereon, and thereafter shall have the right to collect any amounts in respect of an Annual Installment Lien by foreclosure or any other remedy available at law. Any foreclosure shall not affect any subsequent Annual Installment Liens.
F. 
EIC, on behalf of the Municipality, may sell or assign for consideration any and all Benefit Assessment Liens and Annual Installment Liens to Financing Parties that provide financing to EIC, on behalf of the Municipality, may sell or assign for consideration any and all Benefit Assessment Liens and Annual Installment Liens to Financing Parties that provide financing to Qualified Properties pursuant to Finance Agreements. The Financing Parties may sell or assign for consideration any and all Benefit Assessment Liens and Annual Installment Liens received from EIC, on behalf of the Municipality, subject to certain conditions provided in the administration agreement between EIC and the Financing Party. The assignee or assignees of such Benefit Assessment Liens and Annual Installment Liens shall have and possess the same powers and rights at law or in equity as the Municipality would have had if the Benefit Assessment Lien and the Annual Installment Liens had not been assigned with regard to the precedence and priority of such lien, the accrual of interest and the fees and expenses of collection.
EIC, on behalf of the Municipality, shall verify and report on the installation and performance of Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements financed by the Program in such form and manner as the Authority may establish.
This article shall apply to all actions occurring on or after the effective date of this article.