Laurel Ellis et al.

Not the time for Putney to tax solar production

While it's necessary to find tax revenue to cover expenses of the town of Putney, especially after last year's huge road repair bills, it's also important to consider the fairness of any new tax and its impact. This is not the time for a tax on solar production.

No one is making money on solar panels beyond a very modest annual return in the form of reduced power bills. According to current regulations by the Vermont Public Utility Commission, no cash can be realized if solar energy production exceeds the amount necessary to offset the electric meters the solar credits are assigned to. In fact, any unused credit is forfeited completely if not used within one year of its production.

As Putney's proposed tax would be on arrays producing 50kW or more, it will not affect smaller home systems. However, as in the case of the Putney SunFarm LLC array on Bellows Falls Road, it will affect a group of about 50 individuals who have invested together in a 144 kW array.

The panels are owned by individuals who were unable to install solar panels at their homes. Putney SunFarm LLC (whose only members are the individual panel owners) recently took over management of the facility after Clean Energy Collective's subsidiary, Lake Solar I, went bankrupt. It will be enough of a struggle to pay for insurance, maintenance, and repairs without an additional tax.

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