LANSING – In an effort to encourage more energy independence and eliminate the tax penalties for investments in clean energy in Michigan homes, State Representative Jeff Irwin (Ann Arbor) announced a bill (HB 4697) to prevent property tax increases due to home energy generation.

“This plan encourages investment in the rapidly growing field of alternative energy, which will help attract businesses to Michigan,” said Irwin. “Making it more affordable for residents to add renewable energy upgrades to their homes will increase demand for solar energy systems and other cutting-edge home improvements. This plan is a win-win for homeowners, our economy and our environment.”

Currently, when items such as solar panels are installed some municipalities are increasing property taxes based on the value of the improvements. HB 4697 would provide clear direction to assessors and would provide assurance to homeowners who are trying to accurately calculate the payback on their clean energy installation.

Irwin’s plan will allow property tax exemptions on eligible small-scale energy conversion devices using solar, wind, geothermal, biomass or water energy installed before January 1, 2014. The devices will have to meet the standards prescribed by the Michigan Next Energy Authority in order to qualify. Biomass devices, such as wood stoves, will have to meet federal Clean Air Act standards and be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. The plan aims to encourage more energy independence without increasing property owners’ taxes or governmental expenses.

“We must work to make Michigan a leader in the renewable energy industry,” Irwin said. “This industry holds incredible job-creating potential. Encouraging the growth and expansion of the renewable energy sector in Michigan will create more jobs for our workers and help turn our economy around. I urge my colleagues in the House to take quick action on this plan.” Irwin’s bill has 49 co-sponsors including 29 Republicans.