State House Representative Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) says more than 23,000 jobs in the renewable energy industry could be at risk if the General Assembly doesn’t move to extend tax credits set to expire this year.
“Clean energy is an economic success story in our state,” said Harrison, speaking at a press conference Thursday. “The data and the facts prove it. It is not a political football to be spiked in the Legislative Building.”
She joined other lawmakers and representatives from Environment North Carolina to present a report detailing the impact of renewable energy tax credits and subsidies.
This comes as the General Assembly is looking to scrap both the tax credits and a standard requiring power companies to use renewably generated energy to produce 12.5 percent of the electricity they sell.
A measure to limit that mandate passed in the House and is currently stalled in the Senate. The tax credit program is wrapped up in state budget negotiations, which have already stretched months past the July deadline.
This was the second presentation in two days on the topic of renewable energy. On Wednesday the conservative-leaning American Energy Alliance sponsored an hour-long roundtable discussion decrying the tax credit program and the renewable energy portfolio standard.
North Carolina has seen a surge in solar energy investment since 2007. The Tar Heel state now ranks fourth in the nation and first in the South for solar power.
Proponents say it’s a $2 billion dollar industry that’s created thousands of jobs and brought economic development to poor, rural parts of the state
Michael Wray, a Democrat who represents Halifax and Northampton Counties, says the solar energy industry has been a boon to his region.
“’These are new tax revenues our local communities and governments desperately need to pay for vital services like schools, roads, police, water and sewer” said Wray. “We believe very strongly we need to keep our existing clean energy policies in place, otherwise, our rural communities will suffer even more.”
He says he and other pro-business Democrats are hoping to be able to support the budget plan tentatively scheduled for a vote next week, but in order to do so he’ll need a guarantee that the solar power tax credits will be extended.