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Renewable energy tax credits influence greenpreneurs in New Orleans

Solar energy may still seem like a concept from Back to the Future. However, thanks to generous state and federal tax credits, solar power systems may be more attainable than you think — and without having to take your Delorian into the future.

New solar companies such as Joule Energy are emerging across the city, giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to build on increasing demand and residents an opportunity to adapt to an energy efficient lifestyle.

Founded on the principal that solar energy can be just as beneficial to the wallet as it is to the environment, Joule Energy uses 3D technology to design customizable systems. Joule caters to states across the Gulf Coast, installing its products on both residential and commercial properties. Besides solar panel installation, the company specializes in solar hot water, solar attic fans, and energy monitoring that uses new technology to oversee all the systems the company installs.

After studying biochemistry at LSU, Robert Schmidt found himself more fascinated with the renewable energy industry than the medical field, and partnered with Julian Thomas Jr. and Ross Reilly to start Joule Energy in New Orleans. Since the company’s inception in 2009, the entrepreneurs have built Joule Energy from the ground up, gathering a team of 50 full-time employees comprised of installers, engineers and designers.

“We are trying to create a new way of thinking about solar,” said Schmidt, in refuting misconceptions about the high price of sustainable energy. “We want to make this lifestyle available to a younger demographic, as well.”

Established in 2008, the state’s solar energy tax incentive helped lure entrepreneurs to New Orleans. The refundable tax credit allows up to $12,500 per solar system installed. The federal tax credit, which can be used in addition to the state incentive, reimburses up to an additional 30 percent of qualified expenditures for a residential solar system.

Joule Energy’s convictions are evident in its business structure. As the state’s only B Corporation, a new entity that promotes a strong society and environment through higher standards of accountability, the company promotes values that make an economic impact, build a stronger community, and preserve environmental sustainability.

Adriana Lopez writes about the entrepreneurial community for NolaVie and Silicon Bayou News. She also showcases local start-ups through her non-profit organization GenNOLA.


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