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Antrim residents to vote on solar exemption article in March

  • Greg Morris of Antrim put solar panels on his home, but his electricity savings are offset by increased in his home's assessed value. Courtesy photo

  • Greg Morris of Antrim put solar panels on his home, but his electricity savings are offset by increased in his home's assessed value. —Courtesy photo



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, February 06, 2019 6:28PM

Antrim may join in with several other Monadnock towns who exempt solar panels from tax assessments if voters approve a petition warrant article this March.

Greg Morris, a teacher at ConVal Regional High School and resident of Antrim, has submitted the petition warrant article, along with about 80 signatures in support, after installing solar panels on his own home.

The state allows towns to exempt, in whole or in part, renewable energy installations such as solar panels, geothermal, wood or wind energy systems from tax assessment, as an incentive to homeowners to make their homes more green. 

Morris said he installed a $24,000 solar array on his home in the fall. He said the loan he got on the Tesla system is designed to be about the same as the electricity savings generated by the  pan els. He expected to being paying off the panels for the next 12 years, and then benefit from free electricity for the remaining life of the panels – which are designed to last about 30 years.

But when his house was re-assessed this year, he learned the value of the solar panels increased his home value.

“It turns out, my good intentions are for naught,” Morris said. “The savings I’ll make in the electrical bills will be going to the increase in property taxes.”

Mason, Temple, Greenfield, Francestown and Jaffrey have all voted to exempt solar panels entirely, while Dublin, Rindge and New Ipswich exempt panels up to a certain amount.

The amount of people who have taken advantage of the exemption varies from town to town. Mason, for example, has only had three properties apply for the exemption, for a value of $35,000. In Francestown, there have been six exemptions granted, a total value of $74,000. New Ipswich has granted 29 in the last two years, exempting $578,000 in value.

New Ipswich is one of the most recent adoptees of the exemption, adopting it in 2017, allowing up to the first $25,000 of assessed value to be exempt. The article in New Ipswich was written and put forward by assessor Jim Coffey. Coffey said he didn’t feel strongly about the issue either way, but there had been several residents in New Ipswich with solar panels on their homes who were interested in pursuing the exemption. 

“What it came down to was there was a demand for the article, and we thought the people should make the choice,” he said. 

Coffey said the exemptions “probably does help somewhat” to encourage homeowners to install solar panels.

“I think the main thing people think of is, ‘Is this going to turn a profit for the person living under the panels,’” Coffey said. 

If energy savings are canceled out by increased assessments and higher tax bills, people may be reluctant to make the investment, Morris said. 

“There’s two types of people who might invest in solar,” Morris said. “The ones who are sick of their electric bills, and the ones who think they’re doing a favor for the environment, or people who are a bit of both, and that’s probably me. If I had known that a good chunk of my anticipated savings were going to be taken off due to property taxes, I might have thought differently,” he said. 

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.