PROPERTY TAX POST: THE SUNSHINE STATE PASSES SOLAR ENERGY TAX BREAKS FOR PROPERTY OWNERS

Alas, Labor Day and the East Coast threat of Hurricane Hermine have come and gone, bringing us to the end of summer, but some Florida property owners still have reason to bask in the sun in more ways than one. Floridians voted and approved Amendment 4 on Aug. 30. The constitutional amendment that passed unanimously by the legislature, “eliminate[s] property and equipment taxes for residential and business owners who install solar energy panels,” reported by the Tallahassee Democrat.

This amendment is important to property values because it provides that the “increased value to a home from installation of solar panels or other renewable energy devices cannot be considered when assessing homes to determine property taxes,” according to CBS Miami.  Solar panels and other devices are also exempt from tangible personal property tax. The amendment makes it affordable for residential and business customers to purchase solar production equipment. And why not with Florida’s abundance of sunshine?  

The costs of installing solar energy equipment are a major impediment for property owners. Solar energy installations consist of soft costs which include “permitting, financing, and installing solar, as well as the expenses solar companies incur to acquire new customers, pay suppliers, and cover their bottom line…. Soft costs account for more than 64 percent of the cost of a new system,” says the U.S. Energy Department.  Floridians can now expect to save big.  The average cost for residential solar systems is between $15,000 and $40,000, according to energyinformative.org.

Research by The Solar Industries Association shows that Florida isn’t even in the top ten states that use solar energy.  The Association’s website provides a fact sheet which notes that Florida “ranks third in the nation for rooftop solar potential, but all the way down at 14th for cumulative solar capacity installed.” The five states that top the list are California, Arizona, North Carolina, New Jersey and Nevada.

Florida voters have another solar energy amendment to look forward to in November. The Florida Solar Energy Subsidies and Personal Solar Use Initiative (Amendment 1) will “give residents the right to own or lease solar energy equipment for personal use” and the amendment also allows “state and local governments to prevent people who do not choose to produce solar energy from being required to subsidize the production of solar energy,” according to ballotpedia.org.

It seems that Floridians have good solar policy and lots of tax savings to look forward to. The sunshine state will no doubt become one of the leaders in the campaign for renewable energy. Stay tuned to the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot initiative for round two of the Florida solar power chronicles.

Continue the discussion on LinkedIn: How do you think utility companies will handle the decrease in revenue from property owners who install solar panels and create their own power?

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By Cynthia N. Wells