Categorized | Business, Energy

Economic impact study of solar tax credit


The Blue Planet Foundation has released a full report, updated January 2013, detailing the economic impacts of Hawaii’s renewable energy tax credit.

The analysis, conducted by former University of Hawaii economist Dr. Thomas Loudat is updated from last spring, peer-reviewed, and includes demographic information from building permits for Oahu photovoltaic installations over the past 12 years. Loudat’s earlier analysis of renewable energy tax credits was presented in a report to the state legislature in 2002.

Findings show the existing tax incentive yields a clear, significant net fiscal benefit to the state. Every commercial PV tax credit dollar invested yields $7.15 that stays in Hawaii and $55.03 in additional sales, which generates $2.67 in new tax revenue.

For a typical 118 kW commercial PV installation, the state gains 2.7 local jobs each year over the 30-year lifetime of the system.

“Solar energy is currently a bright spot in Hawaii’s progress toward energy independence,” Blue Planet Executive Director Jeff Mikulina said. “Our analysis shows that solar is also a bright spot in Hawaii’s economy and our state budget.”

“Solar in Hawaii is helping us reduce our dependence in dirty, expensive oil; it’s creating thousands of good paying local jobs; and it’s funneling hundreds of millions of tax dollars into our state budget,” he said.

According to the state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, solar accounts for 15 percent of all construction expenditures in Hawaii. The solar industry employs more than 2,000 people locally.

Any stimulation in solar installations also brings federal dollars (from the 30 percent federal renewable energy tax credit) into our local economy. These dollars have a full multiplier effect equivalent to tourist dollars coming to Hawaii.

Solar installations in the past year doubled as compared with all of the previous years combined. Blue Planet’s analysis shows that the use of solar is increasing more rapidly in less wealthy neighborhoods.

An analysis of Oahu residential PV permits from the past decade indicates that while overall number of installations are located in zip codes that have higher median incomes, the rate at which PV installations occured in 2012 versus 2002-2011 was significiantly higher in lower median income areas.

For example, Waianae (with a median household income of $55,836) saw a 300 percent increase in PV permits in 2012 compared with the previous decade combined (173 total permits between 2002 and 2011; 521 permits in 2012 alone).

Hawaii’s solar tax credit — coupled with new third party-owned PV programs — have enabled a broadening range of Oahu homeowners to escape the burden of high energy costs and benefit from a clean energy solution.

“Hawaii’s renewable energy tax credit is a catalyst in driving positive economic growth through solar,” Mikulina said. “When we shift our energy dollars away from foreign oil and to local clean energy sources, those dollars circulate in Hawaii’s economy to the benefit of everyone.”

Mikulina said the benefits are various and long-lasting.

“Ultimately,” he said, “the tax credit is a smart investment in a better, cleaner tomorrow, a future we value beyond dollars and cents.”

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