HB 187 in Louisiana Would Mandate Payment of ‘Outstanding’ Solar Energy Tax Credits

The Louisiana State Committee on Ways and Means moved on May 1 to fix one of its “broken promises” by unanimously passing a bill to pay solar energy systems tax credits still owed before the legislature put a cap on the program last June.

 House Bill 187, sponsored by Representative Gregory Cromer (R-Slidell), now goes to the full House for consideration, accord to a May 1 report by the Louisiana State University (LSU) Manship School News Service.

If the measure is passed, anyone who installed solar power ahead of the tax cap going into effect would receive the state’s 50 percent credit, even if they made their purchase after the $10 million cap mandated by Act 131 was reached. According to that bill, no solar power systems purchased on or after June 30, 2016, would be eligible for the credit.

The caps amounted to $10 million for fiscal 2015, $10 million for FY 2016 and $5 million for FY 2017.

The fiscal note on the bill shows a $15.7 million impact on state revenues for 2017-2018 payouts, which concerns Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge – particularly, the news service reported, because the number of people who purchased solar panel systems is unclear.

“Today we’re looking at $15 million, but it might be $25 [million],” James told the local news outlet.

However, Cromer said solar dealers across the state were likely taking advantage of the cap — telling customers about the credit even once the cap had been hit — ahead of its original sunset date. Kimberly Robinson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue, said the cap was publicized, but consumers probably were not aware the $10 million limit had been hit.

Previously, the state’s solar incentives had been among the most generous in the nation, according to a report by The Louisiana Weekly. “Those who bought panels before June 30 of last year were in an environment of no caps on Louisiana’s funds for solar tax credits,” commented Scott Oman, chief technical officer at South Coast Solar, a distributor for SunPower in New Orleans, told the newspaper. “Taxpayers are now being denied those incentives retroactively.”

Oman is among those hoping that HB 187 will be passed. “A handful of our clients made solar purchases after June of last year, knowing that the state’s credits were to be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis,” Oman said. “We’re incredibly empathetic with our clients’ predicaments. And we want them to understand that this situation was created by the legislature and not the solar companies.”tax

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