Hot topic: Among 30 bills dealing directly with renewable energy introduced this session, approximately a third address economic incentives. Lawmakers are seeking to encourage continued expansion of green energy while reducing the impact of tax credits on the state’s budget.
SB 623, which makes changes to what types of energy receive credits and generally reduces the percentage of the project cost covered, has crossed over to the House and passed first reading March 7.
The Hawaii Energy Solar Association commended the decision, with Executive Director Leslie Cole-Brooks saying that the bill “will close renewable energy tax credit loopholes while ensuring that these tax credits remain available to consumers.” Her statement also claimed that “[These credits] save Hawaii billions of dollars annually that would otherwise be spent on imported foreign oil, thus helping to keep money in Hawaii.”
A report prepared by Dr. Thomas A. Loudat for the Blue Planet Foundation, which named the bill as one of its legislative priorities for the year, also supports the fiscal viability of tax credits for renewable energy. It found that “for each solar credit dollar spent, over the life of a solar system, the State receives $1.97 to $2.67 in additional tax revenues.”
Also advancing is HB 497, which crossed over to the Senate March 7. Both Blue Planet and the Sierra Club supported the bill at a Finance Committee hearing Feb. 22, saying that the tax credits included in it make green energy sources available to consumers across a broad income spectrum.