West Michigan developer targets Opportunity Zones for solar projects

MUSKEGON — A West Michigan solar energy developer is pursuing new projects and job-training in low-income communities across the state that qualify for tax relief under recent federal tax reforms.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created qualified Opportunity Zones that allow investors to defer taxes on capital gains meant to spur development in low-income areas. While most projects involve real estate development, some developers across the U.S. are beginning to explore the potential for renewable energy in Opportunity Zones.

Rob Rafson, founder of Muskegon-based Chart House Energy LLC, says he has multiple projects lined up in these zones over the next two years.

A key component of his projects is job training for residents in low-income communities. He has $5 million of projects expected in 2019 and at least $15 million in 2020.

“We think this Opportunity Fund we’re developing is going to allow us to not just build solar in these communities, but create permanent jobs in these communities,” Rafson said.

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