- North Carolina’s General Assembly approved the Renewable Energy Safe Harbor Act which allows the state’s 35% investment tax credit for renewables developers to terminate on schedule at the end of 2015, but makes projects that go online after January 1, 2016, eligible for the credit if they have a qualifying amount of construction or investment by December 31.
- The General Assembly is also considering bills that would (1) end North Carolina’s 12.5% renewables and energy efficiency mandate at the end of 2018, three years ahead of schedule, (2) allow the mandate to be met by a larger portion of efficiency, (3) extend the tax credit for five years, and (4) allow third party solar financing and solar leasing in the state.
- Duke Energy, the state’s dominant electric utility, said it would consider all options as part of a comprehensive discussion on renewables and energy policy.
In 2014, third party ownership accounted for over 70% of all U.S. residential solar installations, ranging from 90% in New Jersey to 65% in California. If H.B. 245 passes, it could significantly boost North Carolina solar.
The Energy Freedom Act (HB 245) would allow third party ownership in North Carolina. If their solar facility does not generate over 125% of the consumer's annual energy use, any North Carolina company could build a solar array on a utility customer's property and let that customer use or buy the electricity.
Duke Energy, which says it is generally supportive of solar, opposes the bill, saying they prefer a more holistic approach.
“We believe a comprehensive approach is the best way to make progress on solar,” said Duke Energy Communications Manager Randy Wheeless. “What we did in South Carolina worked out well.”
“We don’t want to discredit what is happening in South Carolina," responded North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association Communications Director Allison Eckley, "but they are at a much different stage of solar development.”