Homeowners who lease solar systems and the installers who lease them, won’t be able to take part in the lucrative tax credit program if Legislation approved by the Louisiana Senate wins the OK from the House.
Debate became so angry Monday that it required a sergeant-at-arms to flank the floor podium.
The Senate turned aside on a 19-20 vote, an effort to allow companies that sell leases for solar units to continue using the tax credits. The senators then approved, on a 34-5 vote, legislation that puts a cap on the amount of credits consumers can use.
House Bill 779, by Baton Rouge Republican Rep. Erich Ponti, returns the House for that body’s approval of the amendment.
Ponti’s bill would shave $15 million off the $63 million the tax credit program cost last year.
Under a 2013 agreement, even without Ponti’s bill, the solar tax credits are scheduled to reduce substantially over the two years and the end by 2017.
to disappear by the end of 2017.
Sen. Robert Adley, R- Benton, banged the podium with his hand and yelled, “this is absolutely pitiful.” He scolded his colleagues for not accepting his amendment to preclude installers who lease solar units from using the credits if they haven’t paid taxes.
Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, followed and likewise banged the podium angrily saying the amendment was a naked attempt favor retailers over leasers in the solar industry. Low and middle income homeowners, who can’t afford the hefty upfront costs, regardless of how large the tax credit, use leases to obtain the solar units that turns the sun’s energy into electricity and dramatically decreases monthly utility bills.
Elizabeth Galante, PosiGen’s vice president of business development and governmental relations, said her company leases solar systems for an average of $780 a year. She said its customers save about $1,230 in utility costs annually.
Metairie-based PosiGen is the nation’s fourth-largest residential solar panel company, with more than 6,000 customers, mostly in Louisiana. About 75 percent of PosiGen customers are lower-income homeowners.
“Despite thousands of jobs, $400 million in long-term value to the economy, and over 200 small businesses created as a result of the successful solar program, the Legislature has chosen to slash solar more than any other state credit in an abrupt move that threatens the industry’s future,” Jeff Cantin, president of the Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association, said in prepared statement. “This heavy-handed approach will devastate small businesses throughout the state and create uncertainty about the sincerity of the state’s commitments.”