Giffords Introduces Solar Schools Act

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., has introduced theSolar Schools Act, which is intended to make it more affordablefor schools to install solar power systems.

"School buildings are used most heavily during the day, during the same hours that solarenergy generation is highest," Giffords notes. "Making it morecost-effective for schools to install solar-generating systems willlessen our dependence on foreign oil and save money for cash-strappedschools."

Currently, government institutions, such as schooldistricts, can develop solar energy through an agreement with a solarinstaller that maintains ownership of the panels and can claim aninvestment tax credit, or by financing the purchase of the solar systemthrough tax-exempt bonds.

If school districts were able tocombine both approaches, financing a solar installation throughtax-exempt bonds and claiming the investment tax credit, it would makerenewable energy much more affordable, according to Giffords’ office.

The Solar Schools Act would allow schools to use proceeds from tax-exemptbonds to enter into pre-paid contracts for renewable energy. Publiclyowned utilities already are granted such an exemption to enter intosimilar contracting agreements. The act would extend that exemption tolocal government entities.

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