Louisiana Legislature Moves to Slow Solar Development

The proposed bill and house resolution would create stricter rules for solar leases and make solar projects ineligible for a commonly used tax exemption.

June 8, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Solar Power

Marco Prati / Shutterstock

Committees in Louisiana's state legislature advanced two pieces of legislation that could slow the development of solar infrastructure in the state, reports Sara Sneath for the Louisiana Illuminator. "House Concurrent Resolution 40 by Rep. Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales) will block solar projects from being eligible for industrial tax breaks until July 10, and Senate Bill 185 by Sen. Bret Allain (R-Franklin) will delay the implementation of the solar lease program until a funding source is identified to staff two positions at the Department of Natural Resources for oversight of solar leases."

The legislation has support from Louisiana farmers, the vast majority of whom lease their land, and who worry about losing land to solar developers who can outbid them. "Allain’s bill would task the Department of Natural Resources with promulgating rules for solar leases, including maintenance of the property during the lease, decommissioning and final site closure upon termination of the lease. Allain said his bill was aimed at preventing solar farms from going the way of abandoned oil wells, which lack adequate funding to be plugged and cleaned up." Meanwhile, "HCR 40 would block solar projects from benefiting from the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program, which exempts major industrial projects from most property taxes for as long as a decade," despite evidence that "utility-scale solar projects could create thousands of direct and indirect jobs."

Amendments to the resolution, including one that "changed the language of the resolution from 'direct' to 'urge and request' that ITEP be suspended for solar development," could mitigate its effects, but proponents of renewable energy "remained concerned about the message the legislation sends to renewable developers." Advocates expressed disappointment, but were "'not surprised to see Louisiana legislators looking to block clean energy development,' said Logan Atkinson Burke, the executive director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy. 'This is only hurting Louisiana and holding us back from joining the renewable and efficient economy that the rest of the country is moving on.'"

Thursday, May 27, 2021 in Louisiana Illuminator

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