California: Proposition 39 to boost renewables
In the wake of the hype surrounding Tuesday’s presidential election, an important boost to renewable-energy development in California has received little attention. Proposition 39 was passed by a 60% majority at the state’s poll, which is hoped to deliver US$500/a for renewable energy development in the state.
Proposition 39 closes a corporate loophole that proponents claimed cost the state around $1 billion in lost annual taxation income. Half of that will now be channeled into energy efficiency and clean energy projects in Californian schools and public buildings.
Photovoltaics appears to be well situated to benefit from increased investment, as distributed rooftop clean energy solutions should suit the municipal and school sites in sunny California.
Local photovoltaic and renewable energy advocates have welcomed Proposition 39, with California solar company Solaria’s David Hochschild being quoted in local media saying that in the long term, the investment will pay for itself. “When you put solar panels on schools and efficiency upgrades on schools, you are saving schools money. And that helps get more teachers in the classroom.”
PROP. 39 OK SEEN AS WELCOME NEWS FOR LOCAL CLEAN-ENERGY BUSINESSES
Energy took the stage in Tuesday’s elections, from the presidential race to California’s long list of ballot propositions, and the results hold immediate and long-term implications for Southern California.
The approval of Proposition 39 should funnel an estimated $500 million a year for five years into energy-efficiency retrofits on buildings, starting with public schools and universities.
President Barack Obama in his acceptance speech talked of “freeing ourselves from foreign oil” and ensuring our children aren’t “threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
Analysts see that translating into continued government backing for renewable energy, electric vehicles and increased fuel efficiency standards.
Natural gas, meanwhile, will continue to have the upper hand over coal, which makes up an already dwindling portion of the state’s energy mix.
Jim Waring of La Jolla-based CleanTECH San Diego said Obama’s re-election preserves the federal government’s willingness to take chances on investments in renewable energy and clean technology despite some business failures. That is welcome news for clean technology research and development businesses in San Diego.
“When you are trying to redo an economic system you need to have open minds, you need to be able to accept that there will be successes and there will be failures,” said Waring of the nonpartisan advocacy group for sustainable energy.
Obama’s re-election leaves open the possibility that Congress may renew a key government incentive for industrial wind development known as the production tax credit. There are at least a half-dozen major wind developers with offices or projects in San Diego County that stand to benefit.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney opposed the extension of the credit, set to expire Dec. 31. The tax mechanism can offset nearly a third of the costs of developing an industrial scale wind farm.
“If Governor Romney had been elected, there would have been no chance” for renewal, Waring said. “The production tax credit is still vulnerable. … But it’s not dead.”
As for Proposition 39, the measure closes an out-of-state tax loophole and is expected to raise up to $1 billion a year. Half of those funds will be dedicated to energy-efficiency retrofits.
That infrastructure investment is designed to pay off in long-term energy savings, adhering to existing state laws that stress conservation ahead of all other energy solutions.
Supporters said Proposition 39 would create a more equitable approach to business taxes and bring in additional revenues for a cash-strapped state. They outnumbered on Tuesday critics who called the initiative nothing more than a tax increase that will slow economic growth and cost consumers.
Read more: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/nov/09/tp-prop-39-ok-seen-as-welcome-news-for-local/