Concord, New Hampshire looks to be set for a boom in solar power installations, thanks to a recent decision that will have solar panels in the city no longer subject to property tax assessments. Furthermore, state regulators have decided they will not greatly change payments for those who produce electricity from solar in New Hampshire.
Concord’s city council unanimously approved a tax exemption for residential, commercial and industrial solar installations. This means that solar panels which either heat water or produce electricity will not be added to the value of the building when deciding a tax rate.
“Concord has been traditionally a little bit unfriendly to solar. … I think this will probably foster a significant change,” said co-owner of Granite State Solar, Erik Shifflett.
The change will go into effect next year, impacting both existing and future solar units. Those who own solar panels will need to apply for the exemption.
“We’re going to send letters, probably this winter, to people who currently have solar panels and explain that they’ll need to file for a property tax exemption going forward,” explained Kathy Temchack, director of real estate assessments for the city of Concord.
Shifflett thinks that the new decision will create a real rush in the adoption of solar panels. In the past, the lack of tax exemptions was a barrier to adoption.
“I know that we’ve lost a couple of potential sales due to no tax exemptions in Concord,” said Shifflett. “The average value of a solar array is north of $20,000. When you’re calculating the return on investment it’s a big consideration when you add in the uncertainty of: Is the assessor going to whack me with this tax charge?”
The current system of net metering will continue to apply to all solar panels accepted into the interconnection queue before September 1. After September 1, solar units accepted will be reimbursed at a lower rate, which could create a rush to get in under the September 1st deadline.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, New Hampshire has around 3,500 solar systems installed around the state with the combined output of about 34 MW. New Hampshire is roughly right in the middle of all the states when it comes to solar energy production, but its standing could increase dramatically over the next couple years thanks to the new solar bill and efforts by solar activists.