The Portsmouth City Council voted Tuesday night to expand a tax exemption for home solar panels.
They passed a resolution extending the city’s current exemption to solar arrays of any age, and removing caps on valuations and how long exemptions last.
The value of the panels will be added to homeowners’ property assessment, then immediately deducted, which officials say means the change won't have a big effect on city revenues or residents' tax bills.
But City Assessor Rosann Maurice-Lentz says it should incentivize solar development:
"It's a disincentive for a community not to offer it, because ... when you're going to a [solar] retailer and the retailer is saying, ‘Well, Portsmouth doesn't offer a solar exemption,’ they'll think twice about it,” Maurice-Lentz told councilors.
She says 14 homeowners applied for solar exemptions for the coming tax year, up from just one the year before.
The resolution is one of the first steps in Portsmouth's recently passed goal of vastly increasing its renewable energy use.