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Louisiana’s solar incentives under review


Courtesy NREL: Solar installation in New Orleans, La.Given Louisiana’s location in the Gulf of Mexico in the southern U.S., it’s a great location for solar. The unfortunate potential for extreme weather like Hurricane Katrina, the state’s electric grid faces some other challenges in delivering electricity than most other parts of the country don’t have to face. This makes locally generated power, like solar even more attractive. As such, over the past few years, the solar industry has begun to flourish in the state and now it’s revisiting how it incentivizes solar. And there’s at least one commissioner in the state who wants to make some more drastic changes to solar programs in the state.

Last week Louisiana’s Department of Revenue held a meeting to discuss the future of the state’s solar tax incentives, which allow a state tax income credit of 50-percent for installing wind or solar energy systems, according to Eunice Today. “The 50 percent refundable solar tax credit is not under attack, but the Louisiana Department of Revenue, which administers the tax credit program is refining and amending the rules with the input from the industry association,” said Tucker Crawford, CEO of the Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association (GSREIA), the official chapter of the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), in the region. “The program currently has no sunset provision or monetary cap.” Crawford also is the founder of Louisiana-based solar installer South Coast Solar.

The incentives have proved popular in the state and Crawford doesn’t think there’s strong opposition to the tax credits. “We have the occasional naysayer, but nothing of consequence,” he said. However, “One of our five public service commissioners, Clyde Holloway, does have an issue, but we are confident that we will work out our differences.”

Among other things, the Associated Press said that Holloway wanted to request Louisiana’s legislators to end the state’s solar incentive program altogether, according to Eunice Today. Perhaps because the state enjoys low energy prices from the oil-rich gulf. But he contended that he didn’t want to end solar, just reduce incentives.

More recently Holloway’s proposed an additional, up to $50 fee, on net metered customers. Something Crawford doesn’t think will happen. “We are confident that a $50 or even $25 additional net metering charge is egregious and unfairly taxes net metering customers,” he said. The fee would be on top of other fees assessed to solar owners.”Currently there is an interconnection fee charged by most utilities to recover meter costs. But no charge for net metering per se.”

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