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Letter: ‘Hidden tax?’ Miniscule

More and more people are putting solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on their roofs. They receive a tax credit from the state and the federal government for these. I met someone who complained that they were paying higher electricity bills to cover the tax credits people get. I asked how much he thought he paid in this “hidden tax.” He wouldn’t hazard a guess. I decided to do the research. I drew upon reports from the Congressional Budget Office and the U.S. Energy Information Agency (two reputable federal agencies). The tax credits that the federal government gives for renewable energy (solar mostly, but also wind and geothermal) are estimated to be $10 billion for years 2013-2017. That’s about $2.5 billion per year. Since our country consumes about 4,000 billion kWh of electricity a year, that credit amounts to 0.06 cents per kWh. My last bill from WMECO shows we are paying 8.17 cents per kWh. Thus, the federal tax credit amounts to less than 1 percent of the cost of electricity. The bottom line is that these renewable energy tax credits add an insignificant amount to our electricity bills. For example, I paid 20 cents more for electricity this month because of the federal renewable energy credit.

THOMAS WEBLER

Shelburne Falls

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