Jeff Brandes’ renewable energy bills easily clear committee

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Legislation that would exempt the value of solar-power and other “renewable energy” equipment from Floridians’ property tax bills was unanimously cleared by a Senate panel Monday.

Part of the legislation (SB 172/SJR 170), sponsored by St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes, would create a constitutional amendment required to enact the measure. It would have to be approved by 60 percent of voters.

The bill would exempt “renewable energy source devices, and any components thereof, from the tangible personal property tax,” an analysis says. It “also expands the definition of ‘renewable energy source device’ to include devices that store solar energy or energy derived from geothermal deposits.”

In layman’s terms, it also would allow businesses to write off the costs of installing solar panels on commercial properties.

The Senate Finance and Tax Committee cleared the measures 8-0, sending them to the Appropriations Committee before they can be heard on the floor.

An array of consumer, business and environment groups, including the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, support the legislation.

Brandes repeated a laugh line he used during the recent committee weeks: “This may be the one issue where the Baptists and the bootleggers both agree.”

The bills would expand a popular program enacted by the Legislature a few years ago that encourages Floridians to install residential solar panels on their homes by offering a tax abatement to defray the upfront cost of installation.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]



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