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Arizona’s Solar Energy Credit Program is a bait-and-switch

Our company evaluated the cost/payback to add solar panels to our auto mall building. The Federal Tax Credit helped shorten the time it would take to recoup our investment, but the Arizona tax credit — 10 percent of the purchase price — placed the project into the “let’s do it” category.

Getting the federal tax credit was as simple as a line-item on our tax return. The Arizona credit was not so simple, but we jumped through the hoops and our application and installation was approved for the credit.

But we never received the Arizona tax credit and as of now, we’re not going to. And according to the Arizona Commerce Authority, we are not alone.

Here’s the rub. The state placed us in line to get our tax credit but it ran out of 2011 funding for the credit before it got to our name.

It’s understandable that the $1 million allocated for the year ran out. OK. But, the funding was replenished for 2012 and will be every year until 2016. Are we still in line? The answer is “no” according to the Arizona Commerce Authority, which makes the rules for the program.

There is now a new line to which we are not invited. How unfair.

So the state enticed us to go green; we used a local contractor and used panels made in the United States from a company located right here in Tucson. We reduced our energy consumption and feel very good about our decision in every regard except that the time it takes to receive the payback may now exceed the life of the panels. Such is the life of the solar industry. We acted in good faith.

The state is still drawing in unaware people for 2012 and will be for years to come. The rules need to change. Once you are in line, you should stay in line until the funding is exhausted entirely.

— Charles Weisel, president, The Specialists, Inc.

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