By Jeff Davis — Over the past few decades, Hawaii’s goal to achieve energy independence through home-grown, renewable energy sources has culminated in a tax credit system designed to offer incentives to make the purchase of solar systems economically attractive for homes and businesses. The local solar industry not only affects the prosperity of the tax coffer by creating jobs, but more importantly, the long-term impact of purchasing less oil from overseas helps to keep money from leaving the state.
In theory, creating energy locally would keep billions of dollars in our economy and benefit everyone. The problem is the well intentioned—and to date immensely successful—attempt to negate the ever-increasing cost of oil has resulted in the solar industry bringing Hawaii back to square one. About 99.9 percent of solar photovoltaic (PV) lease companies in Hawaii are owned by out-of-state investors.
We continue to spend money to import electricity just as if we were purchasing a barrel of oil. In addition, we now have the added, negative impact of renewable energy tax credits that are also leaving the state. It is estimated that these tax credits will add up to $174 million in 2012, according to the Hawaii Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism. The State Council on Revenues expects that number to increase by $90 million in 2013.
The system for solar PV leases and renewable energy tax credits is completely counterproductive to its initial intent. This needs to be addressed because the very people it was meant to benefit—the people of Hawaii—are the very ones who are essentially footing the multi-million dollar bill.
Jeff Davis, The Solar Guy, hosts “Hawaii’s Tomorrow” focusing on politics, energy and sustainability seven days a week from 5-6 p.m. on KGU (760 AM). To learn more, please visit www.HawaiisTomorrow.com