Aldermen question solar panel tax in Somerville

On September 18, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

solar_webBy Harry Kane

There may be a city tax associated with the installation of solar panels on homes in Somerville that could be preventing some residents from going green, according to Ward 6 Alderman Rebekah L. Gewirtz.

“I haven’t had a chance to have a conversation with the appropriate people in City Hall,” she said during the Sept. 12 Alderman meeting.

Alderman Gewirtz doesn’t know whether the solar panel tax is needed because the house has to be inspected, or whether there are other “city services” that the solar paneled houses may require.

“The overall benefit to the city of having more people install solar panels should offset any cost for us to do an inspection,” she said.

Alderman Gewirtz believes the City of Somerville should be incentivizing the addition of solar panels. She says the panels are practical on the sloped roofs that so many Somerville homes have.

“I’ve had solar panels on my house for quite a while now,” said Alderman at Large John M. Connolly. “I’ve never been aware of any kind of a tax.”

Alderman Connolly says there is a routine plumbing inspection that is required for safety reasons that could be responsible for the fees or taxes in question.

“I think it’s a great thing to incentivize,” Alderman Connolly said. “Perhaps an abatement should be considered for those people willing to put their time and expense in.”

The item was approved and referred to the Committee on Environment, and will be taken up during the Sept. 25 meeting.


4 Responses to “Aldermen question solar panel tax in Somerville”

  1. mememe says:

    I think John hangs around here, can you expand on the quote below?

    “I think it’s a great thing to incentivize,” Alderman Connolly said. “Perhaps an abatement should be considered for those people willing to put their time and expense in.”

    Why should solar panels get an abatement, while none is offered for other things that I put time and expense into? If I take out my stone porch and put in grass, I put in both time and expense, but get no abatement. Specifically, why does it just so happen that a thing you have should get a benefit, while ignoring all other ‘X’ that take time and expense that I have?

    Also, were there any actual details (outside of pure speculation) of what the actual ‘overall benefit to the city’ is? The benefit of cleaner air is zero, as the emissions offset are produced outside the city. But the cost of picking winners/losers, as well as city expenditures are real costs.

    I dont think Solar panels should have any additional tax on them, but why abatements or easements?

  2. brian says:

    a good point. no taxes; but why an abatement?

    just as an off the cuff consideration… could there be some long range benefit to the city if, say… 75% of the roofs in the city were kitted out with these systems? i understand that the individual systems can be set up to form ‘super systems’ able to produce more than the individual systems can on their own. that might be handy and the city could purchase the power it requires (or part of the power it would require) from the residents themselves.

    either way, there needs to be a more detailed argument for issuing an abatement for installing a solar system than we’ve seen so far.

  3. PixiePocahontas says:

    Which company is the city using and are they connected in anyway to Somerville? Which of the city employees overseeing this process?

  4. Paul says:

    Article is woefully incomplete and vague that we can’t even have a conversation about it. Are they referring to permit fees? Increased property taxes because the house is now more valuable? I really don’t think there is a special solar power tax.

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