Some state legislators seem determined to undermine all clean, renewable energy options. Two weeks ago, wind was under attack; last week, it was solar energy’s turn.
Representatives Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin) and John Bell (R-Greene) filed three bills which could adversely impact the economics of solar energy development in North Carolina. House Bill 541 would reduce the existing property tax exclusion for solar energy systems from 80% to 60%. This would raise property taxes on both home and commercial solar systems, reducing the economic advantage of installing them.
House Bill 542 would classify land and equipment used for generating solar power as “nonsystem property,” meaning it would not be considered part of a utility’s public service assets. This would likely further discourage solar development.
House Bill 543 would be the broadest and most devastating, eliminating the scheduled increase in the amount of electricity utilities must produce from renewable sources. The Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) is currently 10%, but is slated to increase to 12.5% in 2021. HB543 would freeze REPS at 10% indefinitely. While clean energy advocates are pressing to raise that standard further, this bill would retreat in the opposite direction.
Bills such as these can be put forward only by legislators who reject the critical importance of cutting carbon pollution and addressing climate change. From an environmental perspective, they are intolerable. CIB will monitor future activity on these bills for potential action alerts.
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