Thursday, December 10, 2020

CommonWealth Magazine: "Confusion over tax status stymies solar projects"

From CommonWealth Magazine we share an article of interest for Franklin:

Franklin just recently made an agreement on a solar farm off Spring St, and also changed the bylaws to limit further large scale solar farms.

"AN OUTDATED LAW and a series of rulings by an obscure tax board are throwing the state’s landscape for solar projects into disarray.

The question revolves around whether commercial solar projects should be exempt from paying municipal property taxes. The lack of clarity is threatening to take revenue away from municipal budgets – and stymy the progress of the solar industry, by making some municipal officials hesitant to cut deals with solar developers.

“It’s a confusing landscape, and that’s created a lot of uncertainty for the companies, and there are a lot of questions about how we can get this resolved,” said David Gahl, senior director of northeast state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, a national lobbying group for the solar industry.

Massachusetts legislators are considering passing a law – the subject of lengthy negotiations between municipal officials and solar developers – that would eliminate property tax exemptions to large solar developers. The proposal is in a legislative conference committee that is considering a broader climate change bill.


Rep. Jeffrey Roy, a Franklin Democrat, and Sen. Michael Rodrigues, a Westport Democrat, both introduced legislation that would clarify the tax status of solar arrays by limiting the property tax exemption to smaller solar arrays – generally those that produce enough power for the property they are located on. Roy’s language is included in the House version of a climate change bill that is in conference committee.  

Roy’s amendment, which could be changed by the conference committee, would exempt from property taxes only residential solar projects that produce no more than 125 percent of the energy needed to power the property where they are located. (Rodrigues’s proposal would also include commercial solar projects, but it similarly caps eligibility to smaller projects that power their own or an adjacent property.) “It’s just taking it back to what the original legislation was intended to do, to help homeowners power their homes using solar energy,” Roy said.
Continue reading the article online

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solar farm installation at Mount St Mary's Abbey in progress in July 2013


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