UPDATE: The Ponti Bill (HB705) was passed Monday, June 3rd and now awaits a signature from the Governor.
More about the Ponti Bill:
Solar Industry, Solar Owners, Future Solar Owners and Solar Advocates,
If you have been following the solar legislative saga this session you will know it is coming to the end and anything can happen. Your efforts from every direction have put the brakes on the machine which has recently crippled our 15 years of solar progress. I ask that you continue what you are doing as we are making great strides to preserve the solar industry in Louisiana.
When Representative Erich Ponti amended our “best in the nation” solar tax credit during the 2009 session (HB858), he allowed “taxpayers”, not the homeowner, to claim tax credits on solar. Back then this bill was supported by LSES and several of our members testified for this Ponti bill because it allowed more financing options. Unfortunately, this opened a disastrous loophole for “third party ownership” and “leasing corporations” to create a scheme to take advantage of homeowners (mostly low-income) and the state while raking in profits for their in and out of state corporations. “Taxpayers” in his mind were corporations. This obviously strained the state budget, brought the solar tax credit into focus to eliminate, and pushed the utilities beyond their capacity forcing the PSC to revisit net metering.
Immediately after the Ponti bill passed, a group formed which became the voice of the leasing companies while claiming to be the voice of the entire solar industry. (This went by unchallenged until it became apparent that there was a specific agenda.) In 2012 the Louisiana Department of Revenue came out with rules which specifically targeted reductions of homeowner systems while allowing the leasing model to flourish. These rules were based practically word for word on what they received from the leasing industry group. As a result of this, homeowners can no longer get tax credits for more than one $25,000 system nor can they buy their system over a period of years. Obviously these rules had no effect on the leasing scheme making it even easier for them.
When this year’s Ponti bill (HB705) surfaced, which again protected the leasing corporations and hurt the homeowners, you rallied to stop them and so did the legislature. The senate finance committee amendments have addressed the leasing problem head on. They have reduced the leasing tax credit percentage, capped their system size, set dollar per kilowatts limits and required all products to be “ARRA” (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) compliant. The latter is to curb the influx of non-American products being purchased with government money. Other methods of compliance like “UL listed”, “Buy American”, and “California Energy Commission listed” have been considered and have some merit but ARRA is the most restrictive. While we have members that feel strongly one way or another on which method is used, Lawmakers have made it clear they want the most restrictive option when it comes to where state dollars go.
The leasing companies’ lawyers and lobbyist have done about everything they can to push their agenda and stop the Ponti bill as it is amended. I urge you to continue your efforts addressing these problems from every direction over the next few days as we wrap up this session. We WILL get solar back in the hands of the people and back on track for a long future in Louisiana.
Jeff Shaw – Director of LSES
At LSES we strive to keep our members and the public up to date with all things solar. Here are more links to other things concerning solar in Louisiana at the moment: