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Advocates: Solar panels should be exempt from property taxes

solar panels on roof of home

Advocates for solar energy are calling for a change in state law, after the Michigan Tax Tribunal sided with the city of Ann Arbor in a dispute over the value of solar panels.

The city increased a couple's property tax assessment by more than $5,500 after they installed solar panels on the roof of their home.

Becky Stanfield is with Vote Solar. She says taxing someone for putting in solar panels is like taxing them for buying a more energy-efficient refrigerator or other appliance.

Stanfield says Ann Arbor should be encouraging, not discouraging, people from installing solar panels -- especially in light of the city's own commitment to use 100% renewable energy for municipal buildings by 2035.

"Adding a tax just makes it harder for (residents) to decide to go solar, so it is extremely counter-productive," says Stanfield.

She says Michigan should follow the lead of other states that have exempted residential solar from property taxes.

A bill to do that has been introduced by Republican State Rep. Tom Barrett. 

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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