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Old 19-09-2016, 07:23   #1
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Taxing Solar Energy

A precedent has been set in the US where a private power utility company sued a hotel chain for lost profits when a new hotel installed enough solar to take them off the web. The hotel has to pay the utility company because it went off the grid.

More to the point of this forum there is some talk in the US that solar energy should be taxed as income. How do you feel about maybe having to pay income tax on the "free" energy you get from your expensive solar cells?

I thought that the US was a bastion of free enterprise? It looks more like the kind of protectionism that corporations want in the TPP. Even greater corporate and shareholder protection than is provided in NAFTA.

As solar installations multiply, U.S. utility companies fight back - World - CBC News

Does this reek of Fascism?
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Old 19-09-2016, 07:36   #2
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

The saying may be a penny saved is a penny earned, but the reality is money one could have theoretically spent is not the same as actually spending that money. Taxing people on the difference between what they actually spend and what they could theoretically have spent is problematic for many reasons.

I run into the same thing doing home improvements and city tax. When I spent $1,000 laying a patio myself, the city wanted to tax me on 3,000 because they said that's what it would have spend if I'd hired a professional rather than do it myself. What I could theoretically have spent, shouldn't matter, it's what I actually spent that should be subject to tax.

If I give up my cable TV and only watch media online, should I still have to pay the tax for cable? If I paint my house, myself should I have to pay tax on what a professional painter would have charged? One could make this argument for all the utilities and other services we opt not to consume.
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Old 19-09-2016, 08:23   #3
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

I think it's more complicated.

In the US, the grid is operated by separate entity as the electricity production. There are people who mistakenly believe that they should be able to invest in generation, and just enjoy free energy (which they do) - but also sell back to the grid or use the grid at market rate when their generation isn't operational or sufficient.

So basically conventional users are subsidizing energy independence.

Our country is built on political interest maneuverings - when GMs wants less responsibility and liability or regulation - argue free market. When they want protection from competition, close market Merika nonsense. When they want to prevent Tesla from selling in Michigan and Texas, nonsense dealer requirements.
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Old 19-09-2016, 08:34   #4
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

A poorly written article, indeed. It would be really nice if the federal government could set some rational policy, but electrical power is currently regulated at the state level and there is a lot of corruption.
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Old 19-09-2016, 08:48   #5
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

You cannot make sense of taxes, property tax in particular seems wrong as you never really own anything that way.
I had a tree farm, I got a tiny tax break by putting the land into a nature conservancy cause I grew trees, yet when I cut the trees and sold them I paid a rather large special tax on tree sales over and above regular sales tax. Where is the Logic?
Business people I have come to learn are often simply crooks, and politicians?

I have not read the article, but if they tax the generation of power from sunlight that falls on your land, then I assume an air tax for the air that you breathe is next?
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:12   #6
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

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I have not read the article, but if they tax the generation of power from sunlight that falls on your land, then I assume an air tax for the air that you breathe is next?
One step up from the privatization of water.
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:28   #7
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

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Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
One step up from the privatization of water.

I would argue the water is different as it is a finite resource, and in fact that my next door neighbor may not have the right to pump millions of gallons out of wells thereby dropping the water table under my land, but unless his Solar panels were shading my property, that is different wouldn't you agree?
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:30   #8
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

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One step up from the privatization of water.
I grew up on privatized water it was called a well.
Wonder how they would fare trying to tax all of us sailors that have panels on our boats. Would it be the power companies or big oil companies .
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:37   #9
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

An easy way would be to tax upon sale, so we would go from subsidizing, to taxing I guess?
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:41   #10
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

Quote:
Wonder how they would fare trying to tax all of us sailors that have panels on our boats. Would it be the power companies or big oil companies .
It could be a tax at the "Point of Sale" on solar panels and equipment. Just a thought. The state did bend to public pressure and restored the "net metering" to those panels already installed. In the meantime, the sale of solar equipment has plummeted in Nevada and several other states. At least according to the article.

Ha anyone been following the progress of L.A.'s conversion to renewable energy?
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:43   #11
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

Here's the problem. The hotel and the homes in Nevada are not going to be independent of the power company's grid. They can't be. They still need electricity at night, when the sun isn't shining. So what they want to do is sell more electricity during the day than they are using, and then get back the excess at night. They want to use the electric grid like a big battery. But the grid is NOT a battery! It does not store electricity, it only moves it around--mainly from the generation plants to the consumers. At night, the homes and hotels are depending on the electric company's power generators to supply them with electricity.

If the homes and hotels were actually willing to completely disconnect from the grid then they wouldn't have to pay anything. They don't want to completely disconnect, though. So the electric company says they have to pay SOMETHING, for the privilege of storing their electricity and getting it back during the night.

Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Of course, exactly what they should pay is debatable. And that debate will be dominated by politics, and the money that drives it, just like any public policy debate in this country. Which means that whoever offers the politicians the most will probably win. Power companies have a lot of money and a lot of political influence, but then the gigantic casino/hotels in Las Vegas aren't exactly bereft of money and influence either.

We'll see how it turns out.
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:53   #12
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

This "sell back to the grid" problem has been kicking around for 50 years. Nothing new here, though it deserves resolution.
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:55   #13
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

As to taxing homes with solar panels, if you cut ALL access to commercial power, you might have a gripe, but if you use only 1 KWh per month of commercial power, you might get upset with a $100 bill for connection. Then there is the damned Utility Tax, which is a way of taxing renters as well as homeowners for city services.
The city of LA taxes me for the water under my boat, even though when the tide changes, it ends up somewhere else.
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Old 19-09-2016, 10:10   #14
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

Quote:
The city of LA taxes me for the water under my boat, even though when the tide changes, it ends up somewhere else.
Similar, I guess, to the tax Dockhead pays to the Queen for the land under his keel when moored in an estuary.

I was thinking about my statement of taxing solar equipment at POS. This has been done before with CD/DVDs. Of course who uses them anymore?

The government needs to be careful or they could end up inadvertently destroying the "Green Energy" business.
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Old 19-09-2016, 10:13   #15
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Re: Taxing Solar Energy

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Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
The government needs to be careful or they could end up inadvertently destroying the "Green Energy" business.
I think that's the idea - a lot of state reps get a LOT of money from oil compaines.
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