Louisiana retroactively fixes solar tax credit

Louisiana is not a state known for either progressive energy policy or good governance. So while a 50% state tax rebate for both solar PV and solar thermal systems went into place in 2008, it was almost too good to be true.

But while state tax credit allowed Louisiana to become the nation’s 10th-largest market for residential solar, in the end it was too good to be true for a number of homeowners. In June 2015 the state’s legislature changed the formula for the incentive and capped the program at $10 million for the fiscal year, which stranded a number of homeowners who purchased PV systems when the law stated that they had a right to the full credit.

Worse, the system for claiming funds was left not to whoever had installed their system first, but whoever claimed the credit first, keeping with the state’s reputation for arbitrary and fickle governance. And just to make sure that the disaster was complete, the meager caps placed on the program ran out during July 2015.

“The credit program could have been managed a lot better to protect the consumer and protect the businesses that invested in it,” Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association President Jeff Cantin told pv magazine. “They rapidly built a market and then they tore it down.”

Earlier this month the Louisiana Senate and House of Representatives took a step to fixing this mess, by assigning funds to ensure that homeowners who installed PV systems in 2015 can still obtain the credit. HB 187 now moves to Governor Jon Bel Edwards (D) for approval.

If signed, homeowners will have until September 2017 to file for the credit, which will be paid out over three years. WWL put the full amount of the payout at around $16 million, with rebates averaging $12,500 each, meaning that over 1,000 customers can still claim the credit.

For many, this will be better late than never.