Under the Dome

Renewable energy industry touts economic benefits

The state’s renewable energy industry has released its annual report on the economic benefits of alternative power sources, which it uses as ammunition against legislative opposition to subsidizing solar, wind and livestock waste methane.

The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association once again commissioned RTI International to do an independent study. The study found that the state law requiring power companies include renewable energy sources of power, besides fossil fuel, pays off.

The law, enacted in 2007, was the target of some conservative state legislators last year who view the portfolio requirement as unfair government subsidies. But other Republican lawmakers said the law has helped develop an alternative energy industry that has benefited rural communities, and they pointed out that the government already subsidizes traditional energy.

As a result of the standoff, a bill repealing renewable energy tax credits died in committee.

Here are the new report’s findings:

• Between 2007 and 2013, approximately $2.7 billion was invested in clean energy (renewable energy and energy efficiency) development in North Carolina.

• This investment has supported 36,885 annual full-time equivalents (jobs).

• North Carolina tax credits taken by renewable energy projects developed between 2007 and 2013 supported $1.93 in state or local revenue for every $1 of incentive. Since 2007, the state’s renewable energy development has generated $236.3 million of state and local tax revenue.

• Renewable energy project development in 2013 was $732.4 million, or nearly 42 times the $17.5 million investment in 2007.

• Between 2007 and 2013, state government has avoided $559.7 million in energy costs due to energy efficiency programs.

• From 2007-2013, the total economic benefit of clean energy development in North Carolina was more than $4.7 billion. Rural counties have benefited greatly, including more than $50 million of renewable energy investment in each of 10 counties: Beaufort, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Davidson, Duplin, Person, Robeson, Wake and Wayne Counties.

Here’s the whole report.