The Montana Legislative Interim Committees are wrapping up nearly 18 months of work researching issues, discussing draft legislation, and preparing for the next legislative session. This interim, MREA was monitoring the work of two committees – the Energy & Telecommunications Interim Committee and the Revenue Interim Committee. In this post, we focus on the work and outcomes of the Revenue Interim Committee.
The Revenue Interim Committee generally does not address renewable energy issues. However, the Committee is conducting a multi-year review of all of Montana’s income tax credits, which includes Montana’s renewable energy tax credits. The Committee is tasked with researching each credit to decide whether to make any changes. The alternative energy systems credit is used by hundreds of Montanans every year to help pay for home-grown solar, wind, and micro-hydro systems on their property. It allows taxpayers to claim up to $500 per individual (up to $1,000 per household) to help pay for the installation.
The Committee reviewed this tax credit during their April meeting but did not take any action. During the July meeting, the Committee voted 9-3 to draft a bill that would make the credit fully refundable. This means if a Montanan does not have sufficient tax liability to claim the credit in full they can get the ‘balance’ back to them through their tax refund. This will make the tax credit more helpful to lower- and moderate-income individuals who may not have the tax liability large enough to claim the credit. By allowing them to claim the full amount, it will help make solar and wind more accessible to more Montanans. During the September meeting, the Committee voted 7-5 to send the bill draft to the Legislature for consideration. This is a win for renewable energy!
We are happy that this bill will be introduced in January, but it still has a long way to go. After being introduced it will need to make it through a committee, both houses, and the Governor’s office to become law. We look forward to working with the sponsor, other legislators, and our community of energy advocates to move this bill to the finish line.
As the interim draws to a close, we now focus on the outcomes of the election on November 3rd and the start of the legislative session on January 4th. Follow MREA (Facebook, email newsletter) to stay up to date on our policy and advocacy work.