The sun sets on solar tax breaks

| September 16, 2015

Power lines at sunset, San Joaquin Valley. California, USAEditorial by Wilmington Star-News, September 15, 2015.

The best thing anyone can say about North Carolina’s two-months-late state budget is, it could have been a lot worse.

It restores tax credits for historic preservation, which had been lost for previous years. Mostly, it lets teachers’ assistants keep their jobs. It rescues driver’s education.

On the negative end, it wipes out tax credits for solar and renewable energy projects.

Republican House members had wanted to save the credits, but hardliners in the Senate, who voted the tax breaks out of their budget version early, seem to have gotten their way.

Many senators apparently regard solar energy as something like Birkenstocks and tofu, a hippie affectation that’s passed its expiration date. The industry, they think, will evaporate without government aid.

The solar credits had been on North Carolina’s books for the past 15 years. Folks who put up solar panels or similar alternative energy equipment could claim a 35 percent state investment tax credit, up to a maximum of $2.5 million per project.

Under its regimen, North Carolina ranked in the top 10 states in solar energy production, getting an estimated 1 percent of its total electric power from the sun, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Contrary to legislators’ predictions, that infrastructure is not going to disappear overnight. although eliminating tax credits will slow its growth.

What it will do is increase the state’s dependence on fossil fuels. That’s bad policy. We ought to be getting our power from an array of diverse sources, with plenty of alternatives to coal, which pollutes, and oil, whose price can fluctuate when various foreign countries misbehave.

Yes, the tax credits are a government program. And so are various U.S. tax code provisions, such as the oil-field depletion allowance, which benefit oil companies.

The U.S. military and Walmart — neither of which is particularly socialist or earthy-crunchy — have reported marked savings from installing solar arrays.

Duke Energy has a dozen “solar farms” collecting power at different points around North Carolina.

We ought to be encouraging these efforts rather than leaving them out to dry. When the new, and hopefully improved, General Assembly convenes in 2017, restoring solar tax credits should be near the top of its agenda.

http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20150915/ARTICLES/150919794/1108/editorial?template=printart

Category: NC SPIN Perspectives - Opinions from NC Leaders & Organizations

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  1. bruce stanley says:

    No taxpayer subsidies! If it’s so great the market will support it.