The new state budget contains a welcome instance of ending (years after it was supposed to have ended, don’t forget) a particularly generous tax credit for a special interest industry. That would be the 35 percent investment tax credit for solar energy, which filled that 35 percent shaped hole to allow solar investors to “return almost all of their investment within six years.”

It was a particularly generous and therefore especially egregious example of cronyism, but just one of many for renewable energy. It has ended. The energy cronyism story in North Carolina, alas, has not.

As Roy Cordato shows in his newsletter today, the new budget (pdf) also sets aside $500,000 in “nonrecurring” funds (meaning they’re not automatically in future budgets … yet) to

drill new vertical geological test holes in shale-bearing basins as well as any relevant analyses needed to examine the basins, cores, boreholes, or other geological analyses required to evaluate natural gas potential. Funding may also be used to analyze pre-existing cores.

cat whackamole

Why? Why does the state need to fund test drilling? Let energy speculators — entrepreneurs — do that. Let them bear the risk and reap the rewards. That’s how a market operates.

The state has no more business in guaranteeing solar investment than it does helping fund test holes for oil and gas exploration.

Just when one energy crony gets whacked (a little — for crying out loud, they still have the steadily rising forced purchase mandates, let alone all the federal cronyism), another pops up. This kind of whack-a-mole isn’t fun, nor is it nearly as cute as illustrated above.

It does the citizens little good to exchange one form of energy cronies for another.