Front Porch Blog

Who’s casting shadows over N.C. solar?


I love living in North Carolina. The diversity of our state, its natural beauty, and its glorious Carolina blue skies and sunshine.

On average, North Carolina skies are sunny more than 200 days a year. Those sunny skies don’t just offer us great days for enjoying the beach or Saturday picnics; they also offer us a priceless opportunity for solar energy.

Over the past year, we have heard Gov. McCrory and members of the state Mining and Energy Commission talk about the “opportunities” that fracking will bring to the state, while categorically denying the real opportunities of the solar industry. So, let’s do a quick comparison (find links from chart at end of the post):

Doesn’t seem that this is a difficult equation to solve. So why are our elected officials pushing forward on fracking and offshore drilling, while working on legislation that casts shadows over North Carolinians right to utilize our sunshine?

Right now, a monster of an anti-environmental bill is in the General Assembly. House Bill 760 has many terrible provisions, you can see the disheartening summary here.

On the laundry list of rollbacks proposed in this bill is a major decrease of our Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard. The standard currently requires utility providers to obtain a small percentage (12.5 %) of their power from renewable sources by 2021—a modest amount compared to California, where utilities must hit 33% by 2020. The House bill would cut North Carolina’s requirement to just 6%.

That’s one.

A different bill is under attack that would allow residential customers to get “no money down” solar panels on their homes. House Bill 245, also known as the Energy Freedom Act, would allow residents to contract with an independant solar company which would cover the cost of panels and installation upfront, allowing homeowners to enjoy the benefits of solar power while paying off the cost over time. But Duke Energy is doing all it can to block the bill, and our legislators are listening to them—not us, the public, which polls show want solar.

That’s two.

The North Carolina Energy Tax credit is set to expire. Two bills—House Bill 454 and Senate Bill 447—would extend the 35% solar tax credit through 2021. North Carolina has enjoyed explosive growth in solar due to this tax credit, which has paid taxpayers back handsomely. According to research by RTI International and Scott Madden Consultants, $80 million in state tax incentives resulted in $900 million in clean energy and efficiency investments in 2014, as well as nearly 20,000 jobs. Despite the obvious benefits to our economy and the solar industry, our elected officials are showing no sign they intend to extend the credit.

That’s three.

In baseball, it’s one, two, three strikes……you’re OUT! Our elected officials are supposed to be on our team, so why are they set to strike us out on solar. Only this isn’t a game. This is a real opportunity—if we can just get our elected officials to act on behalf of citizens and take steps to make North Carolina #1 in solar.

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  1. Harold Lorentson on May 15, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    How can I get info on solar power in Bryson city. Would like to know who to contact in Bryson City Area Swain County

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