Home owner burned on solar panel investment
BATON ROUGE - A promise of big savings on his electric bill convinced a man to make an investment into solar power, only to be burned when tax rebates never materialized.
Frank Masanz purchased solar panels for his home in 2015 when a salesman with Global Efficient Energy knocked on his door. In addition to saving on his electric bill, the panels were installed for free and he anticipated big tax rebates to help off-set the costs.
With the future of his family in mind, Masanz took out a loan for the $20,000 panels and right away he noticed a difference in his electric bill.
"It brought my electric down from $300-something down to $108, $110," he said.
He saved plenty there, but two years later there's no rebate. Paperwork produced by the Florida salesman said customer owned systems installed between January 1, 2014 and January 1, 2018 are eligible for 50 percent of the first $25,000 of the cost of each system.
Masanz was anticipating to get about $10,000 back on his investment. He applied for the rebate through the state in February 2016. But before then, in July 2015 the state of Louisiana imposed a cap on the refundable solar tax credits. What was once open to anyone, now is first come first serve, based on the date the tax return is filed.
"I got jipped," said Masanz.
Credits for purchased solar panels were capped at $10 million for the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years and $5 million in 2017. Masanz didn't get any credit when he filed last year but the state says he does have the option to re-file.
In the meantime, Masanz is facing large bills to pay off a loan he took out to pay for the panels. Monday, he told 2 On Your Side he has an outstanding balance of about $1,500. While on a fixed income, he can't afford to pay the bill each month and isn't sure he'll ever see that rebate money.
The Louisiana Department of Revenue says taxpayers who do not receive refunds will be notified in writing if they're eligible for deferred claims. Any taxpayer who is denied a solar energy system tax credit due to lack of funds will receive a certified letter of denial. To date, the Louisiana Department of Revenue says it's sent 462 solar credit deferral letters, which gives tax payers priority to the $5 million in credits available for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. In addition, there have been 1,290 solar credit denial letters sent to Louisiana homeowners.
Currently, HB187 is making it's route through the legislature. If it passes, the bill will remove the cap for solar systems installed before June 30, 2016 and anyone who received a denial letter will become eligible for a tax credit. If passed, those with solar panels can submit an amended return with all required documentation.
Global Efficient Energy tells 2 On Your Side it stopped selling solar systems in February 2017. A spokesperson for the company says one of the reasons it is no longer selling is because of the cap in Louisiana.