The Rhode Island state legislature has said that land values may no longer be increased due to the presence of renewable assets. There was a bit of a dance to get the amendment passed, according to the local press.
The vote was on an amendment to Rhode Island House Bill 8220 – Levy and Assessment of Local Taxes. The amendment added language that included the following key text:
Renewable energy resources shall only be taxed as tangible property . . . and the real property on which they are located shall not be reclassified, revalued or reassessed due to the presence of renewable energy resources.
A second refinement affects land that was previously classified as farmland, a tax advantageous state. Farmland that was reclassified to allow it to host renewables “shall revert to the last assessed value immediately prior to the renewable developer’s purchasing, leasing, securing an option to purchase or lease, or otherwise acquiring any interest in the real property.”
Reporting by the local Providence Journal states that the law was supported by the local solar power companies, Green Development and Revity Energy. The Providence Journal notes that both companies have connections to key politicians, at least via donations made to various campaigns.
The law was originally blocked by a 4-3 vote in the Senate Committee on Housing and Municipal Development, due to local community pushback. However, state politicians later pushed the same bill of a different name via the Senate Judiciary Committee – where it passed – and was then approved on the floor by a vote of 28-10.
Revity Energy used an example of land that was purchased at $305,800, and later reassessed at $1,619,300 in 2020 after being developed into a solar project. A second reassessment increased its value to $2,969,300 in 2021. Revity says the solar facility now owes $55,021.13 in property taxes – up almost 1000% – in addition to the $69,375 in tangible taxes.
Local communities pushed back against the law saying that without increasing the tax bill on land under solar facilities, the local jurisdictions would be pushing general land costs onto other taxpayers.
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