Advocates for Clean Energy Successfully Hold Off Attack from Hostile Commissioners

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The LPSC on Wednesday, June 26 had a marathon session during which two items were considered that are of great interest to Clean Energy advocates.

The Energy Efficiency Rule (EE Rule) - The EE rules were adopted by LPSC Dec 12, 2012 but were reversed on Feb 27, 2013 during a meeting in which public comment was not allowed by Commission Chair Eric Skrmetta. We filed a legal challenge and the Commission Chair agreed to re-hear the issue at the meeting of June 26. Alliance for Affordable Energy and Sierra Club did a great job of turning out supportive testimony from a number of different stakeholder groups. A key presentation came from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy which had studied the potential for EE in Louisiana.

July 2013 Delta Sierran Newsletter

Read the latest news from Sierra Club Delta Chapter, including:

• Ironton Celebrates Resilience
• View From the Chair – Solar tax credits legislation
• Earl’s Pearls – Alligator and Cellphone
• Updated contact information for Chapter and Groups
• Trail Guide needs Blazers
• Group Meeting information

Click here to see the July 2013 Delta Chapter Newsletter at July 2013

Louisiana Energy Efficiency Rules up for re-consideration June 26, 2013

Louisiana Energy Efficiency Rules up for re-consideration June 26, 2013 Statewide Energy Efficiency Rules are up for a vote in the Louisiana Public Service Commission meeting on June 26, 2013. You may remember that the rules were adopted by LPSC Dec 12, 2012 and reversed on Feb 27 during a meeting in which public comment was not allowed by the Commission Chair Eric Skrmetta. We challenged that in court and the lawsuit is currently pending. Mr. Skrmetta has agreed to re-hear the issue at the LPSC meeting planned for June 26, 2013.

HB 705 Solar Tax Credit Bill Goes to the Governor

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The Louisiana House of Representatives voted today to concur on Senate amendments to HB 705. That means the bill now goes to the governor. In essence the very much discussed and amended bill leaves tax rebates for purchases of solar systems on single family residences in place until Dec 31, 2017. The tax rebate sunsets as of that date. As of July 1, 2013 (effective date of legislation if signed by gov.) the tax credit is limited to one system on a single family residence and the tax rebate is removed for wind systems and for solar systems on apartments.

Rebates for leased systems stay as they are until Jan 1, 2014. After that date they are capped at 38% of a maximum leased system cost of $25,000. After July 1, 2014 the share of leased system cost that is eligible for rebate is phased down to 38% of $21,000. After July 1, 2015 leased system eligible cost is reduced to 38% of $16,000. Tax rebates for leased systems sunset completely on Dec 31, 2017.

You can see the complete House summary of Senate amendments which they voted on today at http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=855187&n=Summary%20of%...

We think the governor will want to sign this bill because it makes the state tax credits for solar go away after the end of 2017. The conclusion to draw from this is that if you want a solar system on your home in Louisiana you had better get it done before end of 2017. If you want to install a system from a leasing company you best do it before Jan 1, 2014. Keep in mind that the 30% federal tax credit is still in place. We will be very interested to hear what the solar installers and leasing companies have to say about how this state legislation will affect their business.

Update: The Governor did sign HB 705 into law on June 21.

Solar Bill Passes Louisiana State Senate but …

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SB 231 by Martiny and HB 705 by Ponti were introduced in this year’s legislative session on behalf of some in the solar industry in Louisiana as an attempt to head off complete elimination of tax rebates for installation of residential solar energy systems. The attempt was pro-active in offering a phase out of solar tax credits in exchange for their extension at least until Dec 31, 2017. Solar industry reps worked with the legislative fiscal office and the governor’s office ahead of the session in order to come up with a bill that would be acceptable. Since its introduction the legislation has assumed the identity of a ball in play as it changed form numerous times.

Legislative Update - Louisiana Solar Tax Credits hang In there

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House Bill 705 by Erich Ponti is now the operative bill carrying Louisiana solar industry hopes for continuing the tax credits in the face of serious opposition from politicians who want to see the tax credit severely limited or eliminated. The tax credit has become popular since its inception in 2007 but the annual estimated lost state tax revenue has gotten the attention of fiscal hawks and those opposed to solar. Recognizing the political threat the Louisiana solar installers have been proactive in developing legislation that would keep the tax credits in place for a time but eventually phase them out.

Public Rights Prevail at LPSC

Monday, 21 May 2013

Contact: Jordan Macha, Sierra Club, 713-299-4300

Casey DeMoss Roberts, AAE, 504-982-0468

Public Rights Prevail at PSC

PSC Moves to Improve Public Participation

BATON ROUGE, LA – The Alliance for Affordable Energy, the Sierra Club, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, and the League of Women Voters of Louisiana are pleased today after reaching an agreement with the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) over the handling of the energy efficiency rules. In April, the groups filed a lawsuit against the PSC stating that their members’ rights were violated when Commission Chair Skrmetta refused to allow public testimony before repealing the popular law. In the petition, the groups asked the Court to vacate the February 27th vote and call for a new vote on the reconsideration of the statewide energy efficiency rules in accordance with Louisiana’s open meetings law.

In the agreement reached by the groups and the LPSC, the February 27th vote will be vacated and the energy efficiency rules will be up for reconsideration and vote at the June meeting; at this time, the public will be given the opportunity to make public comment.

Public Service Commission Vote on Net Metering Rule Postponed Again

Mary Shepp's home in Lafayette

LPSC update, May 21, 2013 Public Service Commission Vote on Net Metering Rule Postponed Again

The Louisiana Public Service Commission met today, May 21, 2013 to vote on the Net Metering Rule as one of its agenda items. Once again, Commissioner Clyde Holloway was forced to postpone his proposal to reduce the rate that solar panel owners get for their produced electricity because he did not have three votes on the five member commission. This represents a victory for solar advocates and shows the results of our calls to commissioners asking them to leave the Net Metering Rule as it is. Thanks to all of you who made calls to commissioners, it worked !

Net-Metering in Louisiana Slated for Execution, Please Call the Commissioners

Mary Shepp's home in Lafayette

Under current law in Louisiana and many other states, all energy generated by solar customers belongs to them. For every kWh they feed onto the grid they are entitled to a credit worth a kWh in return. At the end of the month the customer owes the utility the base customer charge plus whatever extra power they used over what they produced.

Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway has proposed a rule change which will force these customers to sell their power to the utility at a fraction of its value (wholesale cost $0.03-0.04/kWh). Then the Utility is allowed to sell that same energy to other customers at retail prices ($0.08/kWh). The Public Service Commission has never even done a cost/benefit analysis to show that such a reduction is justified. Such a drastic change in the rules could devastate the small but growing solar energy industry in Louisiana which now numbers over 200 installers and has created more than 1,000 jobs.

Sierra Club Delta Chapter Legislative Update, April 29, 2013

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Tax credits and incentives for residential wind and solar

Louisiana residential solar energy tax incentives are getting a lot of attention in the legislature this year. There are four legislative bills proposing elimination or limits on incentives. They are HB 444 Burrell, HB 587 Robideaux, HB 705 Ponti, and SB 231 Martiny. HB 444 and 587 are similar bills that require cost benefit analysis by March 1, 2015 for a whole list of tax exemptions including the ones for wind and solar. The tax exemptions on the entire list would be terminated beginning Jan 2016. These are revenue enhancement measures left over from the governor’s ill fated attempt to eliminate the state income tax. Neither of these bills has yet moved in the legislative process.

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