By Ryan Randazzo for The Arizona Republic
Two candidates hoping to regulate electric utilities in Arizona spoke out Thursday against the state’s plans to collect property taxes on rooftop solar panels that are leased. Rooftop panels that people own are exempt from such taxes.
Arizona Corporation Commission candidates Lucy Mason and Vernon Parker, both Republicans, attended a protest last week sponsored by SolarCity Corp., Sunrun Inc. and other companies involved in rooftop solar leases.
The candidates said Thursday the state Department of Revenue’s rationale for taxing leased solar panels is counter to state law.
“There is little doubt in my mind that this is an attempt by large special interests in our state to silence their opposition by putting them out of business,” Parker said in a prepared statement.
In the Republican primary, Parker and Mason will face Tom Forese and Doug Little, who also are running as a team.
The winners will face Democrats Sandra Kennedy and Jim Holway in the general election. The Democrats also attended the solar rally last week.
The Arizona Department of Revenue last year interpreted state law to require the companies to pay property taxes on the rooftop installations they have in Arizona. Under the new interpretation, their first bills for thousands of solar arrays they have in the state will be due next year.
A bill that would eliminate the tax and one that would codify it both failed to pass in the most recent legislative session. Solar leasing companies and their customers continue to fight the tax, which could see them facing their first bills under the reinterpretation next year.
Officials from solar leasing companies have accused utility Arizona Public Service Co. of pushing for the taxes to curtail the rapidly growing industry. Barbara Lockwood, general manager for regulatory policy at APS, said in an April letter to regulators that the company supports and would lobby in favor of the taxes.
Read more at AZCentral.