Media Statement Regarding Proposed Rule Changes to Renewable Energy Tax Credit
Until now, solar energy installations have been a remarkable bright spot in Hawai‘i’s economy. Solar jobs accounted for 17% of all construction labor in 2011. Catalyzing hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment in Hawaii’s clean energy future, the state’s existing 35% renewable energy tax credit has been an overwhelming success, making solar the fastest-growing and largest source of new energy in the Islands.
The Blue Planet Foundation believes that the Department of Taxation’s proposed rule changes significantly reduce the ability for residents to participate in the benefits of solar energy. The new rules will effectively slash the tax credit in half for the average taxpayer who now chooses to install solar. Homeowners and renters that have yet to adopt solar will have a reduced incentive to take control of their fossil fuel-based energy bills.
The timing of the Administration’s hasty rule change does a disservice to Hawai‘i residents and businesses, the solar industry, and our clean energy future. The Administration is well aware that the necessary restructuring of the renewable energy incentives can only be carried out legislatively. A special working group convened by Senate Energy and Environment Committee Chair Mike Gabbard has been working for months to determine the most effective way to amend the solar tax credits with a comprehensive plan that is fair, uniform, and clear. By taking effect before the legislative session begins in January, however, the proposed rule changes belie the Administration's commitment to clean energy and may cause significant disruption in a reliable growth sector of Hawai‘i’s economy.