The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) recently issued a report suggesting that the state’s renewable energy tax credits, which have spurred an unprecedented boom in Hawaii homeowners and businesses turning to clean, green solar energy, are actually a negative force on the state economy and will allegedly cost taxpayers more than a billion dollars.
The Hawaii Solar Energy Association (HSEA), which represents a majority of the state’s solar companies and is a key promoter of clean energy statewide, believes the UHERO report’s logic is faulty on a number of levels. It chiefly ignores the number of jobs being created in the photovoltaic (PV) energy industry and the increase in state revenues resulting from taxes paid by solar companies and their many employees. It also ignores the positive impact to the economy as these companies and employees spend their income for goods and services across the state.
A fair analysis of the tax credits’ effects should not focus on overblown, hypothetical tax increases for Hawaii residents. It should focus instead on the facts – according to a study by the Blue Planet Foundation – that every dollar in tax credits yields an additional $2.67 in tax revenues and that the average commercial PV system creates nearly three new jobs a year and generates $485,000 in additional tax revenues.
The UHERO report also fails to appreciate that the renewable energy tax credits were introduced not only to convince consumers to invest in renewable energy systems, but also so that the use of renewable energy and the clear necessity to wean our state off of oil becomes an inherent and fundamental part of the culture and lifestyle of Hawaii. On both counts, the renewable energy tax credits are clearly succeeding and should be continued.
The UHERO economists would rather focus on the presumption that without the tax credits, Hawaii residents and businesses would continue to install solar systems at the accelerated rate they have recently been doing, despite the clear evidence that it is these credits that are putting the state on the path to being able to divert the estimated $5 billion it now spends annually for imported oil to an investment in local, clean, renewable energy.
Another inarguable fact that the UHERO economists fail to acknowledge is that the renewable energy tax credits are currently the most vibrant and promising force pushing the state toward its goal of severely curtailing our use of imported oil to generate electricity, and to create 70 percent of our energy through clean and renewable sources by 2030.
HSEA firmly believes that affordable and accessible renewable energy is critical to moving Hawaii off of fossil fuels and into a clean renewable future for years to come. The tax credits are working just as intended. We should be celebrating the great success of this community/government partnership, not trying to snuff out the flame of energy independence just as the light is spreading.
For further commentary, visit HSEA’s blog at www.hsea.org.
Founded in 1977, the Hawaii Solar Energy Association (HSEA) is a nonprofit, professional trade organization whose members are dedicated to providing quality solar products and services to Hawaii’s residents and businesses. With more than 70 members, including installers, distributors, manufacturers, auditors, and financiers of solar water heating and photovoltaic systems, a majority of which are locally owned and operated, HSEA is the leading voice of Hawaii’s solar industry. In support of Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative, HSEA works directly with utilities, government agencies and lawmakers to create green jobs for Hawaii’s economy and help ensure that affordable solar systems are accessible to local consumers. Learn more at www.hsea.org.