The Attack on Residential Solar in the 2015 Louisiana Legislative Session

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The attack on tax credits for residential solar installations in Louisiana continues in earnest with the 2015 legislative session which started on April 13. Armed with the State’s self inflicted $1.6B budget crisis in addition to the usual arguments, the foes of solar have come up with a litany of bills to be heard in this coming legislative session. No mercy is shown the Louisiana solar industry which pushed for passage of a bill in the 2013 legislative session that provided an orderly phase out of solar tax credits by end of 2017. The solar industry in Louisiana was the only industry to push a bill for voluntary phase out of tax credits. The industry put forward an orderly phase out that would allow time for manufacturers, suppliers and installers to adjust to doing business without State tax credits. The legislation was passed but you don’t hear the solar industry getting any credit for trying to do it the right way.

The bills in this legislative session that are hostile to the State’s solar industry push for such things as an accelerated sunset date for the tax credits, carry forward rather than refund of portions of the tax credit, changes to eligibility and repeal of the credit for leased systems, and outright repeal of the solar tax credit by July 2015. In addition there is a bill (SB 214) which will greatly increase regulation of solar installers by the Louisiana Public Service Commission, providing leverage to the arch enemies of solar on that Commission to harass the industry.

The only bright spot for solar and energy efficiency in this legislature is HB 667 introduced by Rep Stephen Ortego that provides for installation of energy efficient light bulbs and solar equipment on state buildings.

Chances are that the mess of bills hostile to solar will be consolidated by mutual agreement of the sponsors to fewer bills that will have the same effect. The solar industry and its supporters in Louisiana will have their work cut out to defend clean energy in this legislative session.

There are also numerous bills to cut the movie industry tax credits and even a few bills to modify the two year tax exemption for horizontally drilled oil and gas wells. This legislature is desperate to plug the State’s budget deficit. We are watching a legislature that has promoted and gone along with every proposed tax incentive and tax cut for many years. Now they are trying to figure out how to run State government, especially higher education and health care, with drastically reduced funding. This legislative session will see more controversy over budget related issues than any session in a long time.

Woody Martin, Chair
Sierra Club Delta Chapter
hrmartin2sc@gmail.com

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