Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed into law House Bill 346 a Solar Investment Tax Credit bill that doubles the amount Georgia will invest in solar tax credits annually from $2.5 million to $5 million starting in January 2012 and going through December 2014. The Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA) and others praised the legislation and said that it ensures that the state’s solar industry will continue to thrive.
Under the new law, an expansion of a previous law, businesses are eligible for up to $500,000 in tax credits and homeowners are eligible for up to $10,500 in tax credits to offset the cost of installing solar photovoltaic electricity generating systems. The credits are assessed over four years. When the $5 million ceiling is reached, those eligible taxpayers will be placed on a waiting list and are given priority over taxpayers applying for the credits later, according to a GSEA press release.
There’s no set limit for how much of the credits go to business and how much goes to residential installations, said GSEA Chairman Doug Beebe.
The legislation had bipartisan support, Beebe said. “In Georgia, if you don’t have the Republicans on your side, you’re not going to get anything done,” he said.
To pass the legislation supporters did have to scale it back, according to Beebe. “We wanted $10 million, but we scaled it back to $5 million just based on the response from the governor and legislators.”
Beebe praised the legislation, but said GSEA’s overall goals for the legislative session were not met, according to Beebe. “We had an RPS [i.e., renewable portfolio standard] out there that was shot down,” he said. The group also had promoted failed legislation to incentivize stand-alone solar systems.
The original solar tax credit legislation helped Georgia’s economy by creating jobs. “It has generated jobs, there’s a solar economy that can be grown here.” It supported about 450 direct and indirect jobs in Georgia, Beebe said. Although the tax credit is now doubled in size, Beebe doesn’t expect it to create too many new jobs. “I don’t think it will double the amount of solar jobs. It will allow solar integrators to expand what they already have and maybe hire some more people,” he said.