Under the Dome

NC House votes to keep solar energy tax credits

A 250-kilowatt solar farm covers about one-quarter of the roof of OFM, a furniture importer in Holly Springs. The N.C. House voted Thursday to keep tax credits for solar power in its budget.
A 250-kilowatt solar farm covers about one-quarter of the roof of OFM, a furniture importer in Holly Springs. The N.C. House voted Thursday to keep tax credits for solar power in its budget. TED RICHARDSON - trichard@newsob

The N.C. House voted down an effort from some Republicans to kill a tax credit for solar energy projects.

Rep. Marilyn Avila, a Raleigh Republican, sponsored the amendment to let the program expire at the end of the year. Her proposal failed in a 38-77 vote.

Rules Chairman David Lewis called on fellow Republicans to support a compromise extension of the solar credits. Instead of extending the credit for two years, the current budget proposal would extend it for one year in its present form and a second year as a scaled-back benefit for businesses.

“I believe that the two-year extension of this particular credit allows the industry to complete projects it has underway,” Lewis said, adding that he’ll oppose any additional extensions. “Never again will I stand on this floor and ask the members to extend the credit.”

Rep. Jimmy Dixon, a Warsaw Republican, criticized Avila and other GOP members for reneging on a budget compromise that he said was made in a closed-door caucus meeting, agreeing on the scaled-back solar credit.

The solar credit extension has been a key difference between Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget plan and the House proposal. McCrory’s administration called for letting the solar credit expire at the end of the year, while continuing tax credits for other forms of renewable energy. He said the solar industry had matured and no longer needed the help.

Some House Republicans opposed the credits, saying the tax break is subsidized by all other taxpayers.

“To continue this tax credit for one more day is a travesty against the poor people of this state,” said Rep. Jeff Collins, a Rocky Mount Republican.

And Rep. Larry Pittman, a Concord Republican, said the solar credits have prompted farmers to sell or rent their land to the industry.

“There’s a lot of good farmland being used up for these solar farms,” Pittman said. “If they can pay so much more money for that land, they don’t need our help.”

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