No solar farm tax credits in new state budget hurt business, towns

FARMVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – State lawmakers voted not to extend the renewable energy tax credit that helped the state land investments from companies looking to expand. The tax credits expire at the end of the year.

A failed bill put forth to extend that date would have enabled renewable energy companies to receive up to 35 percent of their total investment back over a five year span. It also capped the amount a business could receive at $2.5 million, and an industrial park at $5 million.

Brian O’Hara with Strata Solar said this would hurt business.

“That tax credit is going to impact us, and we’re going to see fewer investments in projects in North Carolina that we would have seen without the tax credit, and we’ll probably see investments go to other states,” O’Hara said.

Strata Solar operates around 100 solar farms in the state. One of their new projects covers 40 acres in Farmville. O’Hara said the lost tax credits could cost them millions at that project alone.

“Probably in the neighborhood of $8 to $10 million total cost, so you’re looking at a tax credit of $2.5 to $3.5 million,” he said.

Farmville Mayor Etsil Mason said she believes the decision to cut the tax credits was short sighted. She said it was yet another way lawmakers have hurt businesses and towns.

“They have really restricted the way any community can raise money in order to provide services for its citizens,” Mason said.

O’Hara said renewable energy isn’t going anywhere, and will be profitable for states who get the policy portion right. O’Hara said a study done by RTI International found that for ever $1 claimed in tax credits, $1.54 were created in local and state taxes.

Both O’Hara and Mason said they hoped lawmakers were re-evaluate the situation and restore the tax credits.

Renewable energy projects that are 80 percent complete by the end of the year will still be eligible for the tax credits.

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