| policy advances
“[tying a tax credit] to economic development — that seems to be the easier row to hoe.”
— steve Kalland, North Carolina solar Center
North Carolina’s REPS. “Once solar incentives were put
in place,” he said, “capitalism did its job and businesses
Indeed, the latest NCSEA jobs survey finds more than
100 solar energy companies in the state, employing more
than 1,500 people. Hundreds of more companies in the
state have secondary or tertiary business in solar. Since
the REPS was adopted, the cost of installed solar in North
Carolina has fallen a whopping 49 percent, according to
Urlaub. Perhaps most importantly, he says, regulators, utilities and legislators are learning that an integrated electricity portfolio including renewables and efficiency actually
costs less than one without. “This is a paradigm shift,” says
Urlaub, and one that, as the state establishes a solar supply
chain, will position it to reap economic-development benefits as solar reaches grid parity nationwide.
Because of falling solar prices, the utilities have already
met their requirements for solar for the next few years. The
legislature is now considering House Bill 495 and Senate
Bill 473, which would double the solar set-aside to 15 percent by 2018. Action is due by the end of the summer.
Back in Georgia, the policy wish list includes passing
HB 146 to expand the cap on the tax incentive, and revising
the state territorial act to allow solar PPAs. One way Georgia
solar advocates hope to emulate North Carolina’s success is by
focusing more effectively on jobs creation, says Georgia Solar
Energy Association Chair Doug Beebe.
“We’ve had to get creative in the difficult budget year
we’re having in Georgia,” says Beebe. “It’s not enough to
say, ‘solar creates jobs.’ You’ve got to say, ‘solar creates
jobs and this is going to be the net-positive benefit to tax
It’s critical for the industry to offer mechanisms that bring
to the table the needs of states, as well as of renewable energy
interests, says Kalland. “[Tying a tax credit] to economic
development — bringing jobs into the state, bringing invest-
ment into the state, in a way that’s going to increase state
revenues — that seems to be the easier row to hoe,” he adds.
“And certainly in the Southeast, it seems to be much more in
tune with what’s palatable for legislators.”
Since the REPS went into effect in 2007, Asheville,
N.C.-based FLS Energy has installed enough solar thermal
capacity to heat more than 500,000 gallons of water every
day at a facilities across the state. CEO Michael Shore cred-
its good policy, which allows solar thermal to count toward
Methane digester operation is based on anaerobic
decomposition, the breaking down of manure and other
organic matter by bacteria in the absence of oxygen. The
methane produced can be used in place of natural gas for
Photovoltaic panels – 7,236
Thermal solar panels – 1,835
Wind turbines – 1,420
Methane digesters – 121
Wind turbines on farmland under a wind rights lease agreement and
methane digesters not o wned and operated by the farm were excluded.
Source: On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey by the U. S. Department
20 May 2011 SOLAR TODA Y
Copyright © 2011 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.
heating and drying operations and to power standby electric
generators, and the effluent can be applied as fertilizer. Meth-
ane digesters are popular for reducing farmyard odors.