Solar Energy Industries Association: Exit Fees a Tax on Sunlight

Powerful interests in California are seeking to enact a new penalty on homeowners, businesses and farms that generate clean, renewable solar energy in the Golden State.

Washington, D.C. – February 12, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The tax, or “exit fee,” would be based on the amount of energy produced – the more clean energy generated, the bigger the penalty. “For some in California who feel threatened by the inroads solar energy is making, this is the ultimate sin tax,” said Glenn Hamer, executive director of the national Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “For the sin of producing clean energy, solar users will be treated like Big Tobacco, with a special user tax. This is not just an assault on the environment but an assault on common sense.” Later this month, the California Public Utilities Commission will rule on a proposal (Administrative Law Judge Charles Pulsifer’s Proposed Decision R.02-01-011) that would impose a new tax on every kWh of clean, privately-owned solar electric power generated in California. The proposal would not just penalize retroactively those who have already installed solar energy systems, but act as a disincentive to those considering such purchases. “This proposal flies smack in the face of the progressive, cutting-edge policies that California lawmakers have adopted to speed the growth of clean energy production in the state,” Hamer said. “Penalizing a technology that promotes clean air, energy independence, new jobs, and reduced consumption of fossil fuels would be a big step backward for California and the nation.” Clean energy initiatives passed in California have helped fuel a 1,000 percent growth in commercial-scale solar installations in the last two years, while the residential sector has exploded, according to SEIA. California now commands over 60 percent of the nation’s solar market. “With the world already concerned about our nation’s energy policies, this move to punish clean energy production could not come at a worse time,” said Hamer. “We intend to help our California members defeat this tax on sunlight.”
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