D.C. reneges on commitment to reimburse residents for solar panels

Amanda Carey Contributor
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The District of Columbia is quickly realizing “going green” is easier said than done.

In 2009, the city established an incentive program promoting renewable energy to reimburse residents for installing solar panels on their homes. Now, government officials are telling those residents who participated that the city is too broke to reimburse them.

The program – the Renewable Energy Incentive Plan – which was intended to reimburse residents up to a third of the cost of the solar panels was financed by a special tax levied on resident and business gas and electric bills. Of the hundreds that took the city up on its offer, 51 will be missing out on approximately $700,000 in reimbursements this year alone.

Instead, that money is being used to help close the $188 million budget gap.

“It just doesn’t seem fair to go through a process with them and have them make investments in solar panels under the assumption that they would be reimbursed,” D.C. Department of the Environment Director Christophe Tulou told the Washington Post. “It’s really sad we are having these economic woes when we are.”

Reimbursing consumers who choose to outfit their homes with green technology has been a popular method for spurring market demand for products like solar panels. President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012, for example, included a $7,500 tax credit for individuals who buy electric cars.

For now, the D.C. city government is hoping to be able to resume payments next year.