A coalition of a number of small-scale North Carolina–based solar energy providers recently sent an open letter to Duke Energy asking for the huge utility company to publicly back a 2-year extension of North Carolina’s renewable energy tax credits — owing to the fact that these tax credits lead to improved economic circumstances via a stronger business pipeline, while at the same time improving the resiliency and “greenness” of the grid.
According to those behind the recent letter, the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit (REITC) has made it possible for small-scale solar energy projects in North Carolina to make headway over recent years.
If the tax credit is allowed to expire, then the future of solar energy buildout in the state is threatened. According to those behind the letter, uncertainty concerning the future has already led to situations where small-scale providers have “all but lost the ability to commit to finishing many system installations by year’s end — at only 8 months into this tax year.”
The small-scale providers behind the recent letter include: Sundance Power Systems, Southern Energy Management, Yes Solar Solutions, and Baker Renewable Energy, amongst others.
Here’s an excerpt from the letter (to give a better idea of the contents):
As you know, North Carolina’s solar market has experienced dramatic growth in the past decade. Our industry owes much of this progress to smart policies like the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit. As North Carolina’s leading small-scale solar installers, we write today to respectfully urge your vocal support for a two- year extension of the tax credit, which is especially crucial to sustain small-scale solar – to the benefit of all North Carolina electric customers.
Our industry has worked hard to make solar affordable for more North Carolina residents and business owners, and we’ve been very successful. The tax credit has provided the financial footing needed for our young but capable industry to serve residential and commercial customers statewide. We have seen first-hand how the certainty provided by this policy translates to a strong business pipeline that keeps jobs and income in our communities and builds a grid that is more distributed, resilient and clean. Small-scale solar is a key contributor to our state’s $4.8 billion solar industry.
Unfortunately, as your dedicated team is aware, many of our smaller projects are meeting delays in the interconnection process, making it difficult to assure our customers of project completion by year’s end. Additionally, many of the skilled workers needed to install our projects are opting to work on larger-scale projects, making fewer workers available for small-scale installation work in the next four months.
Combine these ongoing issues with the looming expiration of our tax credit at the end of the year, and small- scale solar companies and our customers are suffering from unintentional consequences. While the General Assembly passed a Safe Harbor law, our customers’ systems are too small to make buying into the Safe Harbor worthwhile.
As a result of this uncertainty, we have all but lost the ability to commit to finishing many system installations by year’s end – and we are only eight months into this tax year! This has never happened before and threatens millions of dollars of lost revenue for solar companies like ours. In North Carolina’s regulated marketplace, the tax credit has been a critical factor in our customers’ ability to invest in and learn about next-generation technologies that will power our homes and businesses in the future.
Without the tax credit, Duke Energy will have a much less fertile environment for expanding its portfolio of services to North Carolina customers. This is bad for everyone: the customers who want more clean energy options, the companies like ours who work to provide those options, and the utility, who will have a more limited customer base willing to partner in the development of tomorrow’s electrical grid, which we all know is coming.
Interesting. The small-scale solar energy suppliers seem to have a point to my mind — but politics is politics, after all. The eventual decision to continue or not is a toss-up as far as I can tell.
Image Credit: North Carolina flag via Shutterstock
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