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Appraisal methodology for solar and wind energy projects

The 2021-2022 Enacted State Budget established a process for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to develop a standard appraisal methodology for solar and wind energy systems with a nameplate capacity equal to or greater than one megawatt.

The Tax Department—in consultation with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York State Assessors Association (NYSAA)—will annually develop:

  • an appraisal model using the discounted cash flow approach for solar and wind energy systems, and
  • discount rates to be applied to the models.

Beginning with 2022 assessment rolls, local assessors are required to use the model and discount rates to value and place assessments on affected solar and wind energy systems.

Note: Municipalities will continue to have the flexibility to negotiate payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements.

Summary of changes to 2024 model

  • Net energy metering projects have been incorporated.
  • Market transition credits/community credits and community adders now default to the highest credit amount unless overridden by the user.
  • Revenue forecasts, expense forecasts, and discount rates have been updated.

2024 discount rates

The discount rates below are based on the economic principle of weighted average cost of capital (WACC). The cost of capital is a forward-looking measure comprised of the time value of money and investor risk. It takes into account the expected rate of return that market participants require to attract funds to a particular investment. The cost of capital is synonymous with the discount rate that is typically used in renewable energy discounted cash flow analysis.

The discount rates are separated into two distinct categories based on investment risk associated with system type.

Discount rates
Solar (1 MW and larger)
  Weighting Cost Weighted cost
Debt (pre-tax) 51.1% 6.8% 3.47%
Equity (pre-tax) 48.9% 8.8% 5.87%
Nominal WACC (pre-tax) 9.34%
Real WACC (pre-tax) 6.68%
Land-based Wind (1 MW and larger) 
  Weighting Cost Weighted cost
Debt (pre-tax) 47.7% 6.8% 3.24%
Equity (pre-tax) 52.3% 10.0% 7.14%
Nominal WACC (pre-tax)     10.38%
Real WACC (pre-tax)     7.69%

The nominal discount rate is converted to real through the formula RR=((1+RN)/(1+RI))−1, where RR is the discount rate in real dollars, RN is the discount rate in nominal dollars, and RI is the anticipated rate of inflation (assumed 2.5%).

For more information, please see WACC Memo.

Note: The rates specified above are before-tax discount rates. These rates will be combined with the local full-value property tax rates before use in the Solar and Wind Appraisal Model.

2024 Solar and Wind Appraisal Model

Note: The model utilizes earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).

For more information

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Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) is a valuation method used to estimate the value of an investment based on its expected future cash flows. The analysis projects how much money an investment will generate in the future, and then discounts that cash flow to arrive at an estimated current value of the investment.