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Solar flares; Incentives smaller, but it's still a bright idea.

COLUMN: IN OUR OPINION

A funny thing has happened on the way to energy independence: States, including Massachusetts, have begun cutting subsidies for homeowners hoping to catch some rays and reduce their home heating bills through the use of solar energy panels.

From the point of view of government and the solar industry, the changes are not necessarily bad ones. States have begun reducing the up-front financial incentives they offer because of an increase in federal aid, including a hike in the federal investment tax credit for the systems. Until this year, homeowners were limited to a $2,000 tax credit. Now, they can get a credit for up to 30 percent of the cost of a system. And states that parcel out smaller incentives to families and businesses may find they are able to help as many or more people, albeit with smaller incentives.

The changes do mean that many homeowners will have to pay more upfront for photovoltaic installations on their homes, and thus will take longer to recoup their investments. But officials rightly point out that as demand for solar energy increases, the costs will naturally fall. As that happens, there can and should be a reduction in the need for government to offer incentives.

The outlook for solar installations may be slightly overcast at the moment, but its long-term forecast in a world of limited oil and abundant sunshine is bright indeed.
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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jan 19, 2009
Words:236
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