Renewable energy tax break snags Snyder veto

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    Former Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed legislation that would have offered a tax exemption for homes with rooftop solar panels and wind turbines in one of his last actions as governor last week.

    A pair of bills — HB 5143 and HB 5680, both sponsored by now-state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) — would have offered personal property tax exemptions for “renewable energy systems.”

    Gov. Rick Snyder at his year-end press conference, Dec. 11, 2018 | Ken Coleman

    Snyder, a Republican, said in a veto letter that legislation would have carved out exemptions for people who owned turbines and solar panels that were installed after the legislation was approved. That would have led to unequal treatment of property owners because the exemptions would not have applied to systems installed prior to the bill, according to his veto letter.

    The second bill would have allowed people to consider installing and fixing such systems normal maintenance under the General Property Tax Act, a change that could have impacted such properties’ taxable value.

    The package could have cut about $10 million in revenue for local governments across the state, according to a House Fiscal Agency estimate.

    “The bill would eliminate the certification and resolution process. The exemption would apply to ‘an alternative energy system,’ for taxes levied after the effective date of the bill, as long as the alternative energy system is used to offset any portion of the residential, commercial, or industrial energy usage of the person upon whose real property the alternative energy system is located,” the analysis said.

    Snyder’s veto rankled some lobbying groups for renewable energy groups, according to an MLive report.

    Michael Gerstein
    Michael Gerstein covers the governor’s office, criminal justice and the environment. Before that, he wrote about state government and politics for the Detroit News, the Associated Press and MIRS News and won a Society of Professional Journalism award for open government reporting. He studied philosophy at Michigan State University, where he wrote for both The State News and Capital News Service. He began his journalism career freelancing for The Sturgis Journal, his hometown paper.

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