by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
Despite the fact that the North Carolina renewable energy investment tax credit program expired three years ago, North Carolina is still issuing over $1 billion in tax credits to companies with renewable energy projects. And according to an article in Carolina Journal written by CJ’s Associate Editor Dan Way, there could be hundreds of millions more flowing out of the treasury to these companies in the upcoming years. According to Way:
The program allowed investors to claim a 35% tax credit on investments in renewable energy projects. N.C. Department of Revenue records show the state has doled out $1.025 billion in credits since 2010. The vast majority are for commercial solar installations.
Even though the program ended years ago, companies are still collecting because the state set them very favorable terms. As Way writes:
They have up to five years to claim the credits against the taxes they owe. Taxpayers with at least three renewable facilities worth $400 million or more have 10 years to claim the credits.
The two largest entities being awarded these credits are Blue Cross NC and Duke Energy. Way explains:
In 2018 Blue Cross NC topped the list with $45.6 million in tax credits, followed by Duke Energy with $15.6 million. The combined $61.2 million was 29% of all credits awarded. Adding Duke subsidiary Progress Energy’s $6.6 million in credits raised the total to 32%.
North Carolina frequently ranks in the top of the nation’s solar capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (see image). While this may seem like a point of pride to some, it is not without drawbacks. Quoting State Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin, Way writes:
[C]ommercial solar installations have gobbled up productive farmland, and [Dixon] disputes the job-creation numbers solar enthusiasts claim. He warns an environmental tragedy is looming because there is no definitive closure plan for the utility-scale solar plants once they exceed their useful life.