Rush for photovoltic tax credit on New Year's Eve

By Andrew Pereira
Published On: Dec 31 2012 06:01:00 PM HST

Rush to get solar tax credits before it's cut.

HONOLULU -

The push for clean, renewable energy turned into a stampede on New Year's Eve.  The end of the year rush came one day before the state cut the photovoltaic tax credit.

Kapahulu homeowner Nelson Kajioka is cashing in on Hawaii's photovoltaic revolution before the tax credit is gone.

"I wasn't planning to do it till next year, but with the revised tax rules, I talked to Jeff and he advised me of what I can do, and I thought now's the time to do it," said Kajioka.

Many homeowners had the same idea, making New Year's Eve a very busy one for Hawaii's photovoltaic industry.

Jeff Davis, from Solar Services Hawaii, thinks that will end at the stroke of midnight.

"I would imagine to see an enormous drop-off of people pulling permits for photovoltaics, mainly out of the idea that there is no tax credit," said Davis.

But the PV tax credit is not going away.  Under new rules, homeowners can still qualify for the 35 percent tax credit by installing PV systems that generate up to 5 kilowatts of energy.

"If you're putting in a small system, it stays just the same.  If it's a larger system, the incentives are reduced about 50 percent," said Leslie Cole-Brooks, of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association.

Since the state tax credit is capped at $5,000, many residents will likely settle for a 2.5 kilowatt system, which costs an average of $14,000.

"Thirty-five percent of $14,000 doesn't get you the average PV system that does real work.  It'll get you a partial PV system that'll help." said Rick Reed of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association.

Even though the tax credit is being cut, Davis says homeowners can still leverage their investment by installing a smaller PV system as well as a solar hot water heater.

"Work from the bottom up -- change your light bulbs, get a solar hot water, get a PV.  It can all be done tomorrow, Jan. 1, with an investment return," said Davis.

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