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Honolulu’s Mayor signed into law last month, new provision that ranges from rezoning land in Waikiki to ensuring that homeowners who are considering renovating their homes get a special property tax exemptions.

Bill 57 rezones two blocks of land facing Kuhio Avenue between Kaiulani Avenue and Lilioukalani Avenue in Waikiki from “apartment precinct” to “apartment mixed-use sub-precinct” and “public precinct.” According to the city Department of Planning and Permitting, private landowners and the city sought rezoning to open up the possibility of redeveloping the blocks for commercial use, although no specific development is yet planned.

Bill 66, which amends the real property tax law so that homeowners who aren’t living in their homes due to renovation can still get their homeowner tax exemptions for up to two years, as long as they don’t sell or rent out their property during that time.

The five-year extension of the federal solar investment tax credit, included in a spending bill in Congress, could have great effects on the solar industry in Hawaii as home owners move to renewable energy. The current federal tax credit, which is scheduled to sunset at the end of 2016, is set at 30 percent. The state tax credit, which has no sunset date, is at 35 percent.

The federal tax credit has effects on residential, commercial and utility-scale solar markets in Hawaii. SunEdison, which has utility-scale solar farms planned for Oahu, is one of the firms that need to use this tax credit to make the projects financially viable and helps create jobs in this growth industry. Because of the tax credit [ending] in 2016, it’s important that these projects move through efficiently and quickly, in time to meet that deadline, build the project and interconnect with Hawaiian Electric’s grid. In the commercial market, it’s turned into a race for businesses to get their systems in place before that tax credit ends in about a year.

Todd Georgopapakas, partner of Honolulu-based Distributed Energy Partners (DEP), said he’s very busy. Homeowners and businesses that haven’t done solar is getting in line. DEP’s backlog is bigger than it has ever been, and it expected to only increase as they get closer to 2016 when the federal tax credit ends.

In the record-breaking residential market, which already has received a huge blow as state regulators recently ended the net energy metering program, the federal tax credit extension is welcomed news! The proposed federal tax credit extension will keep the credit at 30 percent through 2019, with a drop to 26 percent in 2020, another drop to 22 percent in 2021 and then to 10 percent in 2022.


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