Situational Analysis: Summary

A recap of key issues related to the state-owned land PILOT and taxation of solar installations in the Commonwealth.

Table of Contents


In the sections above, we reviewed significant issues regarding two important programs to replace lost property tax collections by cities and towns. The discussion of the SOL program highlighted the complexity of the reimbursement system in place since the enactment of the Municipal Modernization Act of 2016. The fixed level of the state appropriation for the program causes some distortion in PILOT reimbursements, as the appropriation has traditionally underfunded the program and disadvantaged communities with lower-than-average or stagnant growth in land value. In the following section of the report, we discuss findings and recommendations aimed at improving the provision of reimbursements and providing a higher level of appropriation.

We also discussed how property taxation of solar power equipment varies by the size and nature of the installation. While stakeholders broadly agree on the use of tax exemptions for smaller solar projects, such as residential installations to provide the power needs of a home, a series of ATB decisions has created uncertainty among municipal authorities about taxing the larger solar projects. PILOT agreements help adjust for this concern, but are currently negotiated in an unstable legal environment as continuing ATB appeals weaken the hand of communities in negotiation. We present findings and recommendations aimed at improving the treatment of solar installations by the PILOT program. We also highlight potential legislative solutions to address the concerns raised in the report, including the taxable status of solar installations. 

Date published: December 10, 2020

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