Hawaii

Hawaii’s State Renewable Tax Credit Maintained at 35%, For Now

May 8

In response to ongoing debate regarding the future of the state’s renewable energy tax credit, early this year Senator Mike Gabbard and Representative Chris Lee spearheaded an effort – with broad support from the solar industry – to comprehensively overhaul the current tax credit structure and give it long-term stability.

After months of consideration, Hawaii’s House and Senate passed legislation which reduced the current 35% renewable energy tax credit in a transparent, predictable manner over time, and created a new production tax credit for utility-scale solar. However, this legislation failed to be voted out of a legislative conference committee in late April, due to heated debate regarding the true cost of the bill vis-à-vis the current tax credit.

Thus, the status quo will remain in effect in Hawaii through 2013, at least. Commercial solar systems remain eligible for a 35% tax credit (or a 24.5% refundable tax credit) capped at $500,000 per megawatt installed. The legislature will likely again consider changes to Hawaii’s renewable tax credit next year.

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SEIA/GTM Report Confirms Record Solar Uptake; Strong Momentum into 2013

Mar 14

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Greentech Media have released their annual “U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review,” showing record levels of solar demand. U.S. businesses, homeowners, and utilities installed 3,313 megawatts of solar in 2012, representing 76% annual growth over the prior year. Cumulatively, more than 300,000 solar electric systems (representing more than 7.2 gigawatts) are today online in the U.S. Other key facts:

• 2012-installed solar installations were valued at $11.5 billion, compared to $8.6 billion in 2011 and $6 billion in 2010.
• While California remains the top solar market, key growth states in 2012 were Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, and North Carolina.
• Last year Massachusetts quadrupled the solar capacity it installed in 2011, with much of the growth coming from a strong commercial solar sector, which broke the 100 megawatt mark in installed capacity for the year.
• Much of solar’s growth is due to cost reduction. From 2001 to 2012, the average retail price of electricity in the U.S. increased 35%, while the average installed price of a solar system dropped nearly 70%.

2013 will be another growth year for solar. Analysts project at least 4.3 gigawatts of new installed solar for the year. Top growth prospects for 2013 include Hawaii, New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts.

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Hawaii Emerges as Major Solar Growth Market

Aug 3

With the nation’s most expensive retail electricity rates and ample sunshine, Hawaii is emerging as one of solar’s most important growth markets for commercial and residential projects in 2012-2013. Installed capacity in Hawaii grew from 25 megawatts in 2009 to more than 85 megawatts in 2011, and it will likely reach 150 megawatts by the end of 2012. While the state offers tax credits to encourage small-scale solar, the most significant contributor to project economics is Hawaii’s notoriously expensive electricity (the state generates approx. 75% of electricity from petroleum).

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Hawaii’s Renewable Tax Credits Escape Danger

May 11

Originally enacted in 1976, Hawaii’s renewable tax credit allows individuals or corporations to claim an income tax credit of 35% of the cost of equipment and installation of residential or commercial solar. Hawaii’s credit is unique in that it also offers a refundable option for those solar buyers lacking the requisite tax liability.

The credit has long been a target of the state’s more fiscally conservative legislators, and a proposal to significantly modify the tax credit in 2013 and beyond — which was passed by both the House and Senate — failed in the final hours of Hawaii’s 2012 legislative session. Therefore, the current tax credit (offsetting up to 35% of system costs in addition to the 30% federal investment tax credit) will remain available through at least the rest of the year. However, we can expect Hawaii’s legislature to again deliberate changes to the program next year, making 2012 an opportune time to consider the benefits of commercial solar in Hawaii.

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SEIA/GTM Report Confirms Red-Hot U.S. Solar Uptake

Mar 19

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Greentech Media released their annual "U.S. Solar Market Insight Year-in-Review" in mid-March, showing solar demand of unprecedented proportions. Total U.S. installations in 2011 were 1.85GW — more than double 2010’s 887MW.

The major story of the year was the completion of utility-scale solar projects. There were 758MW of utility-scale projects that came online in 2011, and the completion of utility solar projects accounted for virtually all YOY growth in states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and New York.

In California, while residential and commercial projects had significant YOY growth (from 152MW in 2010 to 261MW in 2011) again, the most significant growth came from the utility sector — more than 280MW worth of utility-scale projects came online in the state in 2011. New Jersey also saw massive growth in 2011, with 313MW installed (up from 2010’s 132MW), with virtually all of this solar coming in the form of residential and commercial projects. New Jersey is also having a blistering Q1 2012, with 84MW installed just January alone. However, the state is now exceeding solar targets through mid-2013, suggesting that the current pace of installation will not continue.

Emerging markets that will have significant growth in solar in 2012 include Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Hawaii and New York.

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