Taxing solar in Merrimack

Merrimack town officials have studied the possibility of providing tax exemptions for solar energy systems.

MERRIMACK — Town officials will vote Thursday on whether to implement tax exemptions for solar units on local properties.

Merrimack debating solar-panel tax exemption

More than 150 communities in New Hampshire offer an exemption for solar energy systems, however the town council decided two years ago that it would not place an item on the town warrant that could have adopted property tax exemptions for households with solar panel systems.

However, the council is now considering a proposed change to the Merrimack Town Code that would, if approved, provide an exemption that is “equal to 100 percent of the total assessed value of the solar energy system, up to a maximum of $25,000,” the proposal states.

There are more than 110 properties in Merrimack that have solar systems in place, which includes at least four commercial properties. On average, the cost of a solar panel is about $1,100, and they are currently assessed at about $600 each.

“Owning solar in Merrimack does not make sense. Whether the town means to or not, they are taking a stance against solar by systematically making it unaffordable to get — unlike the surrounding towns,” Rob Link of Crestview Circle said of the existing way that Merrimack assesses for solar.

Link argued that solar panels should not be compared to swimming pools or other amenities.

“It doesn’t pass the logic test,” he told the council, urging it to support the proposed solar exemption.

Kevin Regan of Riverside Drive said his home was assessed for an additional $36,000 because of the solar panels he had installed.

He maintained that the $25,000 exemption wasn’t enough of a break.

“We are losing $800 a year,” Regan said.

Steve Larson of Merrimack requested that the proposal be placed on the ballot for voters to decide in the spring. In a letter to town officials, Larson contended that by giving homeowners a tax exemption, which he said could equate to an average of $450 for each solar property, it would likely result in higher taxes for the rest of the local homeowners.

Others maintained that without some type of exemption in place, a homeowner with a new solar array may experience a higher assessed value, meaning the money they are saving on energy costs is now being used to pay for higher taxes.

The town council is expected to vote on the proposal on Thursday.

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Thursday, December 12, 2019
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