Tax break on solar power creates incentives for businesses

Published: May. 22, 2017 at 4:41 PM EDT
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By: Mike Vasilinda; Capitol News Service

May 22, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A 120 acre solar field is getting ready to pop up on the outskirts of the state capital. It will be owned by a private company on land leased from the city.

Under legislation implementing the constitutional amendment approved by voters last August, the company won’t be taxed for 80 percent of the $30 million in panels it installs.

The tax break was approved by a bigger percentage of voters than those who said yes to medical marijuana.

Sponsor Jeff Brandes says the amendment and implementing legislation will define Florida’s future.

“It’s a huge incentive for businesses,” says Sen. Brandes. “You’re going to see over the next ten or fifteen years, a significant transition to more solar. And this bill, they will point to this bill as being one of the impetuses of that.”

With no fuel to buy, solar contractors can offer a steady price for power for years at a time.

“And even with this amendment alone, it’s going to be a very different place. It’s going to be a cleaner greener energy state,” says Aliki Moncrief with Florida Conservation Voters.

The tax break is expected to be a big incentive for utilities to invest in large-scale solar.

“It doesn’t give us any grief at all that this is an incentive for the utilities to start improving their record on how much solar they are installing,” says Moncrief.

Florida now ranks 12th nationally in solar installations. It is expected to be ranked 7th within the next five years.

Businesses will still pay 20 percent of the tax that would have been due on solar equipment, but homeowners have had a 100% property tax break on solar equipment since 2013.

The business break is expected to cost local governments $54 million a year.