While theGeorgia Legislature appears ready to allow the state’s popular renewable energy tax credit to expire, North Carolina lawmakers are considering a plan to expand their most aggressive measure in support of cleanenergy. And that existing law — a renewable energy portfolio standard —already goes well beyond anything seriously considered in Georgia.
The North Carolina legislation wouldn’t increase the percentage ofretail energy that must come from renewable sources. But it would increase solar’s share of the renewable portfolio:
House Bill 495, The Solar Jobs Bill, would require NorthCarolina utility companies to double their use of solar-energy offsetsby the year 2018 — from the current rate of 0.2 percent of all retailelectricity sold to 0.4 percent.
In a move designed to generate more jobs for North Carolina, the lawalso caps the amount of solar offsets that utilities may purchase fromout-of-state sources at 12.5 percent. At the same time, it leaves intact a 25-percent ceiling on out-of-state purchases for all other renewableenergy sources.
It’s interesting to contrast the energy strategy in North Carolinawith Georgia’s approach. The two states often are compared, becausethey’re similar in population, size, geography and a bunch of otherdemographic. Its 2007 passage of the renewable portfolio standardendeared North Carolina to solar advocates as one of the fewSoutheastern states to support the industry in one its most promisingregions.
In one sense, Georgia may actually be ahead on North Carolina. The Solar Foundation reported early this year that Georgia ranked seventh in the nation in solar jobs with2,157 as of last August projected that number to leap to 2,913 by thiscoming August. North Carolina came in 13th with 1,033 jobs and isprojected to jump to 1,419 jobs. But many of the Georgia jobs arefounded on a handful of manufacturers that have landed in the state.
Without the state tax incentive, however, the market for installingsmall-scale solar projects on homes and small businesses is in doubt,several installers have told me yesterday. And the lack of a portfoliostandard gives utilities limited incentive to buy from or build theirown large-scale projects. The result is that many Georgia solarinstallers are marketing in other states — which means the lion’s shareof installation jobs will reside there.