Ohio Tax Reform Clears Path For Solar

Good news from the Buckeye State! The legislature passed important tax reform that drops the tax burden for solar farms from upwards of $100,000 per MW to a flat fee of $7,000 per MW. The bill (SB232) – which is expected to be signed by the Governor any day now – removes a major barrier to large-scale solar development in the state.

Existing Ohio tax law added these unreasonably high costs to the price of developing solar and other renewables. In early 2010 Governor Strickland sounded the call for change as part of his state of the state address. That set the stage for legislative action. February saw the introduction of SB232 by Senator Widener (R), a bill that proposed a flat fee in lieu of the onerous taxes. After hefty negotiations (and support voiced by Vote Solar members in the state!), SB 232 passed both Houses in the wee hours last Friday.

This special tax exemption applies to clean energy projects built between now and 2011, a great incentive to hasten solar development in the state. Additionally, projects with a nameplate capacity of less than 250KW are now permanently exempt from the personal property taxation.

SB232 also contained language that expands last year’s passage of PACE enabling legislation to include energy efficient improvements along with solar. This PACE victory comes with strong concerns from energy efficiency advocates since utilities have access to the efficiency credits gained through PACE.

All in all, great progress made in setting up the kind of policy infrastructure that Ohio needs to be able to meet its solar goals. Thanks to all our Ohio members who emailed their legislators in support of SB232.

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

photo: Lauren Manning

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