New budget pulls plug on solar energy
The new budget put out by the NC Legislature eliminates solar energy tax breaks that had been on the books for 15 years. While NC had previously ranked in the top 10 states for solar energy production, it will now have to rely solely on fossil fuels, a move conservative law makers hope will cause the industry to disappear.
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.
The U.S. military and Walmart -- neither of which is particularly socialist or earthy-crunchy -- have reported marked savings from installing solar arrays.