A new federal bill may extend tax credits for solar heaters added to commercial pools.
In December, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Jeff
Merkley, D-Ore., introduced the Renewable Energy Incentive Act. Its
main purpose is to extend the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act of 2009 to fund solar-energy developments through 2012, and to
include public utility providers in the funding.
Senate Bill 2899 also proposes to amend the Internal Revenue
Code of 1986 to include commercial swimming pools in an existing
solar tax credit currently allowed for homes and buildings.
If the language passes, a 30 percent credit will be granted to
commercial-pool owners who outfit their facilities with solar
heating that meets the standards listed in the IRC (1986). The
credit will apply to pools updated after the law’s passage.
Currently, the code pointedly states that the existing tax credit
may not be given for pools of any kind.
Congress excluded pools because they’re considered luxury
items. However, in a statement from Feinstein, it was noted that
alternative heating on commercial pools would have great
“Approximately 189,000 commercial pools nationwide use
fossil fuel or electricity to heat an estimated 27.25 billion
gallons of water,” she said. “If the heating systems
were replaced with solar water heating systems, there would be 1.23
million tons of carbon dioxide emissions avoided annually, which is
equivalent to taking 237,000 cars off the road.”
If it passes, the bill could have a profound impact on the
industry, said Michael Orr, owner of service and solar-installation
firm Michael Orr Solar in Manteca, Calif.
Solar systems generally pay for themselves in less than five
years, Orr said, but the substantial upfront cost prevents many
customers from signing on the dotted line. Recently, he bid on a
solar system for a large commercial pool and placed the cost at
close to $100,000. The 30 percent credit could help close the deal,
“I have a number of proposals that I have had out for a year
or so where the people are just not [incentivized] enough to put
them in,” he explained. “But a 30 percent tax credit is
going to be a big deal for helping the community pools get those
solar [systems] put on. All who can put solar on will do it,
I’m sure of it — because they know the cost of gas for
heating those pools.”