Ain't No Sunshine When It's Gone: The Future of the Louisiana Solar Initiative After the Demise of the Solar Energy Income Tax Credit

Author:Michael Seibert
Position:J.D./D.C.L., 2018, Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University.
Pages:705-738
 
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Aint No Sunshine When Its Gone: The Future of the
Louisiana Solar Initiative After the Demise of the
Solar Energy Income Tax Credit
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction .................................................................................. 705
I. Leading the Horse to Water ......................................................... 707
A. Renewables Portfolio Standards ............................................ 709
B. Income Tax Credits ................................................................ 710
C. Net Metering .......................................................................... 711
II. On the Homefront: Louisianas Solar Incentives ......................... 712
III. State Survey of Solar Incentives .................................................. 716
A. New York............................................................................... 716
B. California ............................................................................... 720
C. Massachusetts ........................................................................ 724
IV. Dont Let the Sun Set on Solar ..................................................... 726
A. Solar Energy Benefits ............................................................ 727
B. Its Not All Sunshine and Rainbows...................................... 728
C. Louisianas Plan for the Future .............................................. 733
1. The Tax Credit ................................................................ 733
2. Net Metering and Interconnection Standards .................. 734
3. Renewables Portfolio Standard ....................................... 735
4. Tradable Renewable Energy Credits ............................... 736
5. Administration ................................................................. 737
Conclusion .................................................................................... 737
INTRODUCTION
Global climate change is defined as [a] well-documented rise in
global temperatures [that] has coincided with a significant increase in the
concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.1 Global climate
change is an immediate threat to the future of humanity,2 and the United
Copyright 2018, by MICHAEL SEIBERT.
1. Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497, 504 (2007).
706 LOUISIANA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 78
States Supreme Court has recognized the importance of taking action for
its abatement.3 The effects of global climate change are tangible.4 Global
climate change causes sea levels to rise, affects the already disappearing
Louisiana coastline, and increases the likelihood of hurricanes,5 which
cause widespread and catastrophic damage in Louisiana.6 The emission of
greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is a major cause of global climate
change.7 The greenhouse gases release into the air, where they build up in
the atmosphere and trap heat from leaving the earth.8 One-third of
greenhouse gas emissions in the United States comes from electricity
production.9 The emissions are a product of the fossil fuel industrys
electricity generation and the extraction, refining, and distribution of oil.10
In stark contrast, the greenhouse gas emission from the manufacture,
installation, and maintenance of renewable energy sources, such as solar
power, is minimal.11 Replacing greenhouse gas-producing electricity
2. Id.; Shannon Baker-Bransletter, Distr ibuted Renewable Genera tion: The
Trifecta of Energy Solutions to Curb Emissions, Reduce Polluta nts, and Empower
Ratepayers, 22 VILL. ENVTL. L. J. 1, 4 (2011); see also JONATHAN M. HARRIS ET
AL., GLOB. DEV. AND ENVT. INST., THE ECONOMICS OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
3 (2015).
3. See gener ally Massachusetts, 54 9 U.S. 497.
4. See generally U.S. GLOB. CHANGE RES. PROG., CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS
IN THE UNITED STATES: HIGHLIGHTS, SOUTHEAST REGION (2016).
5. Id.
6. DAVID ROTH, NATL WEATHER SERV., LOUISIANA HURRICANE HISTORY 54
(2010), https://www.weather.gov/media/lch/events/lahurricanehistory.pdf [https://per
ma.cc/5QXY-ZCYZ].
7. One greenhouse gas is [c]arbon dioxide . . .[, which, when] released into
the atmosphere, . . . acts like the ceiling of a greenhouse, trapping solar energy and
retarding the escape of reflected heat. It is therefore a speciesthe most important
speciesof a greenhouse gas.’” Massachusetts, 549 U.S. at 505; see also Baker-
Bransletter, supra note 2, at 4; see also HARRIS ET AL., supra note 2, at 3.
8. Benefits of Renewable Energy Use, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS
(2013), http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/renewable-energy
/public-benefits-of-renewable.html#.V9wjFjs4nVp [https://perma.cc/46EK-YALG].
9. See ENVTL. PROT. AGENCY, EPA 430-R-12-001, INVENTORY OF U.S.
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS AND SINKS: 1990-2010 (2012); see also How much of
the U.S. car bon dioxide emissions ar e associated with electricity generation?, U.S.
ENERGY INFO. ADMIN., https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs /faq.php?id=77&t=11 (last
visited Nov. 11, 2017) [https://perma.cc/MG8X-XQET].
10. RABIA FERROUKHI ET AL., INTL RENEWABLE ENERGY AGENCY,
RENEWABLE ENERGY BENEFITS: MEASURING THE ECONOMICS 34 (2016).
11. See INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE, SPECIAL REPORT
ON RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES AND CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION (Ottmar
2018] COMMENT 707
methods with solar power sources reduces the overall level of greenhouse
gases.12
Many states take initiatives to adopt solar power and incentivize their
citizens to do the same.13 Louisianas solar policy incentives increased
demand at their outset, but they now fail to sustain solar utilization. The
incentives also lack important characteristics that other states have used to
increase demand successfully. Louisianas solar policies are ripe for
change and need to incorporate new policies that have become the national
standard.
This Comment recommends a policy change in Louisianas solar
panel incentive structure. Part I provides a background on three solar panel
incentive programs. Part II gives an overview of Louisianas current solar
incentive legislation. Part III surveys three states that have successful solar
incentive policy programs, discusses the details of their programs, and
analyzes why they have been successful. Part IV elaborates on the benefits
provided by solar energy and argues that Louisiana should continue to
incentivize solar energy, which will result in lowering the level of
Louisianas contribution to greenhouse gas emission without impacting
the states budget.
I. LEADING THE HORSE TO WATER
Every state incentivizes solar energy adoption.14 Incentive programs
vary greatly among the states and usually are very complicated. The three
most influential incentive programs that states offer to increase solar panel
demand are renewables portfolio standards, income tax credits, and net
metering. Each incentive works uniquely to drive demand for solar energy
adoption. Louisiana has chosen to implement some of these incentives, but
those incentives often are inadequate.
Edenhofer et al. eds., 2012), https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srren/SRR
EN_FD_SPM_final.pdf [https://perma.cc/V8Z8-VM45].
12. See N.Y. STATE ENERGY PLAN, RENEWABLE ENERGY ASSESSMENT 3
(2009), https://energyplan.ny.gov/-/media/nysenergyplan/final/Renewable_Energy
_Assessment.pdf [https://perma.cc/E5UB-C9Q4]; see also Sources of Greenhouse
Gas Emissions, U.S. ENVTL. PROT. AGENCY, https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions
/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions (last visited Sept. 5, 2017) [https://perma.cc/E2
PF-RSNX].
13. See DATABASE OF STATE INCENTIVES FOR RENEWABLES & EFFICIENCY,
N.C. CLEAN ENERGY TECH. CTR. (2016), http://www.dsireusa.org/ [https://perma
.cc/596H-PWNU].
14. Id.

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