Incentives Watch: Renewable Energy Fuels Debate as Stakeholders Vie to Steer Policies

The debate over the future of renewable energy is burning bright as the federal wind energy production credit is set to expire in 2013 and energy policy has emerged as an issue in the presidential campaign. Opponents of the production credit and other incentives argue that alternative energy sources should not be subsidized. Proponents point to a growing industry and new source of jobs as well as the need to wean the U.S. from foreign sources of oil. For an in-depth look at both sides of the argument, check out the Wall Street Journal  article entitled “Do We Need Subsidies for Solar and Wind Power?” here.

A similar debate is taking place at the state level. Louisiana’s solar energy industry has been in the spotlight recently, with both supporters and opponents of the industry speaking out. Last Thursday, various representatives from the solar industry came out in support of the solar tax credit offered in Louisiana, according to an article by Todd Elliott of The solar industry representatives attended a recent public hearing on proposed changes to the solar tax credit income tax regulations.

Meanwhile, others in Louisiana feel that solar energy users need to pay their fair share by way of a fee that is being hotly debated, reports another article. Specifically, Clyde Holloway, a public service commissioner in Louisiana, is planning to propose a monthly fee for property owners who have installed solar energy panels on their property. The fee would be given to the utility companies in return for the electricity solar users need on days when the sun is not shining. Holloway says the fee would be used to offset the amount of money it costs the utilities to have the solar users on their grids.

Holloway wants the solar energy industry to be able to survive on its own, noting that Louisiana is “the highest solar-subsidizing state . . .” Opponents of the fee, however, argue that it is really just an increased net metering fee intended to penalize people using solar energy.

The tax credit in Louisiana is available for the purchase and installation of a wind or solar energy system equal to 50 percent of the first $25,000 of the cost of each energy system. For more information about this credit, as well as the solar and wind incentives available in all the other states, check out Bloomberg BNA’s Green Incentives Navigator.

In other developments . . .

The Indiana Department of Revenue recently ruled that a taxpayer's substitute natural gas (SNG) production facility is entitled to the refundable coal gasification tax credit because the facility is dedicated primarily to gas production for use by energy utilities serving in-state retail gas utility customers, according to a Bloomberg BNA Weekly State Tax Reportarticle.

By: Kathleen Caggiano

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