In a move that will make solar power significantly more affordable, the Knesset Finance Committee on Sunday unanimously approved new regulations reducing the arnona (property tax) rates associated with panel installation.Sunday’s approval follows Interior Minister Silvan Shalom’s decision last Tuesday to transfer the regulations to the legislative committee for this required authorization.Pending the final signatures of Shalom and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the proposed regulations would considerably decrease property tax rates on photovoltaic and solar-thermal rooftop and field installations.While not part of Sunday’s approved regulations, Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said he would soon be legislating, together with Shalom and Kahlon, additional measures to exempt private households from arnona entirely for rooftop installations smaller than 200 sq.m.According to the regulations for rooftops, every square meter between 200 sq.m. and 1,000 sq.m. would be charged NIS 0.06. The price would be NIS 0.03 for every square meter between 1,000 sq.m. and 2,000 sq.m., and NIS 0.015 for every square meter over 2,000 sq.m.In non-rooftop settings, every square meter up to 10,000 sq.m.would be charged NIS 0.24. The price would be NIS 0.12 for every square meter between 10,000 sq.m. and 300,000 sq.m., NIS 0.06 between 300,000 sq.m. and 750,000 sq.m. and NIS 0.03 for above 750,000 sq.m.Gafni has long championed both the arnona reductions and exemptions, already receiving unofficial but unanimous approval on the subject in his committee in August. The issue has been awaiting official regulation since 2010.“Promoting savings and the environment are of the utmost importance, and I will work toward this direction with all the tools at my disposal,” Gafni said on Sunday. “Logic says that there is no need to collect money, or at most a minimal tariff, for alternative power generation.”“We must make it as easy as possible for those installing these solar devices to generate electricity – though arnona exemptions, through significant benefits like tax reductions and by removing bureaucracy,” he added.