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City Council to consider expanding solar energy exemption

PORTSMOUTH – The City Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution at its Tuesday, Sept. 4 meeting to expand the city’s current solar energy system exemption.

There will also be a public hearing on the proposed expansion of the tax exemption, according to City Councilor Josh Denton.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.

In addition to expanding the existing solar energy system tax exemption, there will be public hearings on Sept. 17 on two initiatives pushed by Denton to create tax exemptions for wind power and wood pellet systems.

The wood pellet systems would be used for heating homes only, while solar and wind power would be used for creating electricity, Denton said.

The city’s existing solar energy system exemption is capped at five years and $25,000, Denton said.

“Right now if you have a house that’s assessed at $400,000 with a $25,000 solar array system, the city is not allowed to charge you for the solar array,” Denton said.

But to promote sustainability and environmental friendliness, Denton wants to eliminate the five-year limit and $25,000 cap, both of which he says are “self imposed.”

He added that if the resolution passes to create an exemption for wind power and wood pellet systems, the exception “would work exactly the same way solar works if the council eliminates the cap and time limit.”

He stressed the wood pellet exemption he is seeking to have passed, would relate to only using wood pellets to heat your home, not produce power.

“Using wood pellets to power the home is a little controversial and that’s why I’ve proposed just using them to heat the home,” Denton said Tuesday.

The City Council voted unanimously to hold the upcoming public hearings on the three resolutions at its meeting last week.

Denton noted all three resolutions need only one reading to pass, and the City Council is not required to hold public hearings on them.

“I just thought it was a good idea to hold the public hearings,” he said.