The Utah State Legislature, which has large Republican majorities in both chambers, recently passed two important bills that will benefit consumers who utilize solar energy. Republican Governor Gary Herbert then signed both bills into law.
Utah Senate Bill 141 allows for an extension through 2020 for a $1,600 tax credit for Utah customers who adopt solar systems. The credit will then sunset incrementally from 2021 through the end of 2023.
Lowering taxes of any kind is always welcome news for conservatives. It’s especially great because solar consumers across the country are already eligible to claim a 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) on their federal tax returns, so Utahans have combined incentives that can add up to thousands of dollars in state and federal tax savings.
However, Utah Senate Bill 157 may be even more important, especially over the long term. This measure requires solar companies to issue a disclosure statement to all residential solar customers that summarizes key terms in their agreements. The move will protect and empower consumers, and ultimately, encourage the adoption of more solar power.
SB 157 should resonate with conservatives because it promotes a fundamental principle of a truly free marketplace: transparency. Market forces cannot function properly if important information is hidden from buyers or sellers at the time of any transaction. Consumers need to be able to make well-informed decisions so that all competitors are on a level playing field.
We have come to expect transparency in countless other purchases we make every day, and we know it makes a difference in our choices of products and services. For example, most consumers looking to sign up for a cell phone plan will ask to see details like the number of minutes, peak times, the amount of data, and so on. If a major provider were allowed to lie to their customers about such information with impunity, it would be very disruptive to the marketplace, forcing out legitimate competitors who may otherwise thrive if the comparison were fair.
SB 157 will ensure that the most consumer-friendly and innovative solar providers do well.
We applaud our friends at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), who advocated for the legislation and developed standardized disclosure statements that served as a model not only for the Utah law, but also similar laws in Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico.
And of course, we thank Governor Hebert and all of the legislators who voted for these laws. It goes to show that conservatives are increasingly backing solar and other clean energy industries because they understand how they create jobs, grow the economy, and strengthen our national security. The proof is in the pudding—Utah’s solar sector now employs 6,170 workers and the state boasts the eighth largest solar capacity.