These days you can’t talk about Louisiana without talking about at least some of the destruction it’s seen as a result of Hurricane Katrina or the more recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill. But within that destruction there is also hope, and a lot of that hope lies in solar power. To help encourage more homes and businesses to adopt renewable energy and to help protect this coastal state from experiencing more of the devastation wrought by the hurricanes of 2005, the state is offering rebates and other incentives to make its citizens more energy independent.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, solar became a primary power source, since the grid was down and getting adequate fuel to run diesel emergency generators was nearly impossible. Now, as part of the rebuilding effort groups like Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation, Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross International and neighborhood associations are rebuilding New Orleans homes with sustainability and solar in mind. Louisiana’s economy is largely a fossil fuel-based economy, but British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon fiasco in the summer of 2010 highlighted problems with continuing to rely on fossil fuels as an energy source.
Most of Louisiana gets more than 5 kilowatt hours of sunlight per square meter on a daily basis. That’s more than enough to justify a photovoltaic (PV) system, although the solar isn’t as rich as that hitting the Southwest. Still, Louisiana’s electric supply is dominated by natural gas power plants, which produce nearly one half of the state’s power. Coal-fired power plants produce another quarter of the state’s energy needs and two nuclear power plants provide an additional fifth of Louisiana’s energy needs. Per capita electricity use in the state is high. The state has hot, humid summers, residential use of air conditioners is high, and most homes use electric heaters in the winter.
Despite lacking a renewable portfolio standard like most other states, Louisiana has significant incentives to help residents adopt renewables. Most other states without renewable standards, like Arkansas, have fewer incentive programs. Among Louisiana’s renewable energy incentives are some pretty significant tax incentives, low-interest rate loans and net metering.
|Program Type||Tax Credit|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Hot Water Heating, Solar Pool Heating, Solar Space Heating and Wind|
|Amount||50 percent of system costs for the first $25,000|
|Required Documentation||Detailed proof of purchase. Tax forms: R-1082 (residence owner), R-1081 (business)|
|Official Web Site||http://www.legis.state.la.us/lss/lss.asp?doc=453218|
Louisiana offers a tax credit of up to $12,500 for residents that install a PV, solar thermal system or wind turbine system. Under the tax credit, covered costs include installation costs. The person or entity that purchased the system is eligible to claim the credit. The policy allows the entity that claims the credit to be either a company or a person, but the system must be installed at a residence or residential building, like an apartment complex.
The tax credit for a system can only be claimed once by the person or entity that purchased the system. So if a property with a PV or other system installed is sold, the entity or person that installed the system must disclose if they received the tax credit. A subsequent owner would not be eligible for the credit related to the system.
To be eligible, the credit must be claimed in the year the system was put in into service. The credit applies to all PV system types, regardless of being grid-tied and net metered or attached to a battery backup. Similarly, it applies to wind turbines that produce electricity and also mechanical wind turbines. Solar thermal systems must be used to heat water or provide solar heating or cooling.
Though applicants may apply for the federal credit for renewable energy, if they opt for this state credit, they may not combine it with any other state tax incentive. If the financier’s tax credit exceeds their liability, they will receive a refund from the Louisiana Department of Revenue.
|Program Type||Low-interest Rate Loan|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Space Heat, Solar Hot Water Heating, Geothermal and other renewables|
|Amount||Half a loan for a five-year period subsidized. The department will cover up to $6,000 of the loan.|
|Required Documentation||Application and approval from financing institution|
|Official Web Site||http://dnr.louisiana.gov/sec/execdiv/techasmt/programs/residential/help/index.htm|
Louisiana’s HELP program allows homeowners to obtain a five-year loan to improve the energy efficiency of their home, which can include adding PV and other renewables, according to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency.
Under the program, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources subsidizes half of the financing for energy efficient home improvements at a low interest rate to participating lenders. The department will subsidize up to $6,000. However, each participating lender determines the maximum amount it will loan and the interest rate they will charge.
Homeowners can qualify for HELP loans by choosing from a list of pre-approved energy improvements, or they can have an energy rating performed on their home by a Home Energy Rebate Option (HERO) energy rater. The department said, “All recommendations of the energy rating are eligible for financing under the program. The cost of the energy rating may be financed as part of the loan.” However, participating in the HELP program means that recipients can’t also participate in the HERO program.
|Program Type||Net Metering|
|Amount||Credited at retail rate toward future usage and is carried forward indefinitely|
|Required Documentation||Interconnection agreement with utility (see link below for standard agreement)|
|Official Web Site|
Under Louisiana’s net-metering law, investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities and electric cooperatives must offer net metering to customers that produce electricity from solar power and from other renewable energy, like wind and geothermal. Residential systems up to 25 kW are eligible to net meter in the state. Commercial and agricultural systems can net meter systems up to 300 kW in size. New Orleans has its own set of net-metering laws, which largely resemble those in the rest of the state.
Net excess generation (NEG) in a month period is credited to the customer's next bill for an indefinite time period. In the final month that the customer has service with a utility, they are paid by the utility for any overall NEG at the utility’s avoided cost rate. As of November 2010, the ownership of renewable energy credits related to a net-metered system had not been addressed.
Under the regulation, customers wanting to interconnect their system must notify the utility 45 days prior to interconnecting the system. Also, the utility must provide the customer with a two-directional meter. While the utility must pay for the meter, the system owner must pay a one-time fee to cover the installation cost of the meter. Customers also must pay certain other interconnection costs.
Corporate Tax Credit
Personal Tax Credit
Property Tax Exemption
State Loan Program
State Rebate Program
Utility Rate Discount
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.