Monday, February 13, 2012

West Virginia Solar: Bills in the Legislature Right Now!

Two bills are slated to go to the WV House Judiciary Committee this week. You can help them pass into law. Contact info for members of the committee can be found here.

Do you have a solar PV system already? Do you plan to have one in the future? Do you hope that these systems will become more ubiquitous throughout the Mountain State?

If so, these bills are worth your attention and your time - your phone call could help sway the vote. The bills are collectively referred to as the Solar Bill of Rights. The two bills address HOA restrictions and the taxation of solar energy systems.

A troupe of folks are at the capital helping to shepherd these bills along. John Christensen is helping to coordinate the effort and he has summarized the bills as follows:

HB 2740 is the bill which makes Homeowner’s Association’s (HOA) covenants that restrict the installation or use of solar energy systems unenforceable. The bill sets guidelines for timely permitting as well as recognized proper installation of the solar photovoltaic (pv) and solar thermal systems (shw) and provides for recognized certified standards in materials and performance in the systems. The bill also provides civil penalties for non-compliance to be paid to the applicant by the HOA in an amount not to exceed $1,000.00 and indemnify or reimburse any loss or damage caused by the installer to be paid to the HOA to or its members.

HB 2741 is the bill which gives owners of active solar energy systems a substantial reduction on their real and personal property taxes as it would be taxed at salvage value for tax reappraisal purposes. The bill would become law only if it makes its way through the entire legislative process before midnight on March 10, 2012, and then subsequently signed by the governor. The bill defines what an “active solar system” can be either solar (pv) or (shw) in nature including all parts and materials. The bill also addresses new construction and how the assessment will be handled before and after subsequent change in ownership. This bill started out to exempt the tax altogether but was found to be unconstitutional in a fiscal note provided to the finance committee last year therefore a subcommittee bill will be offered instead.

These bills were originally introduced last year. They have undergone some refinement and have gained some notable support. Del Mannypenny (D-Taylor) is the lead sponsor. If you have more questions about these bills you can contact John Christensen ( or take a look at the Legislative Update offered by the WV Environmental Council.

The update includes more bills than simply the Solar Bill of Rights. Bills critical to energy efficiency standards, bottle recycling and many many others are included. If you have not looked at the WVEC Legislative Update before it may be an eye opening experience.

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