A tax break for Tennessee’s solar industry violates the state constitution because it favors certain taxpayers, state Attorney General Robert Cooper said Friday, jeopardizing the future viability of the credit.
An exemption created in 2010 for solar and other green energy installations is prohibited by a provision of the state constitution that says the legislature cannot pass laws that let certain taxpayers out of paying property taxes, Cooper said.
The break was one of three that former Gov. Phil Bredesen pushed through the legislature in the waning days of his administration. The decision will likely rekindle efforts, led by state Comptroller Justin Wilson, to roll back the property tax exemption and replace it with a less generous tax cut.
Black Bear Solar Institute, through operating electric vehicle charging stations and demonstrating how solar technology operates, has established a Green Gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Townsend.
The institute operates electric vehicle charging stations from major metropolitan areas of the state and the interstates to the national park gateway community of Townsend, said Lisa Stewart, vice president and executive director of Black Bear Solar Institute. People can stop in the office at Trillium Cove and get their electric cars recharged, see demonstrations of solar equipment installation methods and practices.
The nonprofit group headquartered in Pigeon Forge expanded to Townsend earlier this year, locating in the Trillium Cove Shopping Village off East Lamar Alexander Parkway at 161 Painted Trillium Way in Townsend.
In addition to operating charging stations and providing renewable energy information, proceeds from corporate purchases of 30-year solar module sponsorships will help establish a wildlife rehabilitation facility in a remote area of Townsend.
“One result of this project is to make Townsend the most electric vehicle-friendly city in the world, with more charging stations per capita than any city on earth,” Stewart said.
Students in the Landscape Architecture Program won top awards in the 2012 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Tennessee Chapter Design Awards Program.
The students accepted their awards in mid-October at the ASLA Conference held in Franklin, Tennessee.
A project by Luke Murphree, from Greer, SC and Patrick Osborne from Fall Branch, TN, “Solar Greenways,” won an Award of Honor in the General Design category. The design proposed the integration of an alternative energy infrastructure into the First Creek Greenway corridor to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Murphree, a second-year landscape design student, said, “‘Solar Greenways’ demonstrates the progressive abilities of landscape architects and students to respond to environmental issues such as climate change in a way that offers ecological, economic, and social benefits to our society.”
The UT Landscape Architecture Program, recently accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board, is the first and only accredited professional landscape architecture program in Tennessee.