In its latest attempt to attack the growing solar industry in North Carolina, State Lacks Guidelines for Safe Solar Equipment Disposal, the supposedly conservative Carolina Journal cites sources that are encouraging North Carolina’s legislators to follow sweeping EU-wide directives.
Rather than encouraging European-style government oversight and regulation, it would be wise to spend some time in North Carolina’s local communities, where you’ll see thoughtful engagement from local officials and property owners to ensure solar development is done responsibly.
Currently, 57* of North Carolina’s counties have proactively adopted solar ordinances that address oversight of responsible solar development. These ordinances address siting, setbacks, decommissioning, and recycling among other issues. A number of other counties classify solar facilities as a utility and regulate them the same as a utility sub-station.
“In our standard lease, decommissioning responsibility falls on us, the developer,” said Brian O’Hara from Strata Solar, highlighting a standard practice in the industry.
The risk of a solar facility being improperly decommissioned is virtually non-existent. Even if the developer, utility, and every other company associated with the solar facility abandoned the project, it still would not sit abandoned since the scrap value of the materials significantly exceeds the cost to remove them. It is also worth noting that every solar project over 2MW in the state requires a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the NC Utilities Commission, which involves review by multiple state agencies. Perhaps the Carolina Journal could have reached out to North Carolina’s local communities as a resource on their experiences with solar development:
…in Wilson County
“It’s definitely an opportunity for economic growth,” said Jonathan Russell, Elm City’s town manager. “It’s an economic benefit that doesn’t require us to provide any capital outlay.” The rural Wilson County town stands to benefit… The effect is significant, Russell says, and will add to the $400,000 currently collected in property taxes. “We can expect that revenue for 15 to 20 years,” Russell said. “It’s a substantial increase in our property tax collections. It should prevent any (property tax) increase in the foreseeable future.” Source: The Wilson Times, July 7, 2015
…in Montgomery and Moore Counties
“The potential for additional solar development provides additional local property tax revenues and marking opportunities for the Pinehurst Regional Commerce Park currently being developed in Montgomery and Moore County. … The newest solar farm will increase the property tax base of Montgomery County by more than $10 million without requiring impermeable surface or water, sewer or other services from the county.” – Amanda Whitaker, Montgomery County EDC
…in Franklin County
“Even with the property tax abatement, property tax billing for a parcel in 2012 generated $2,027 in tax revenue. The same parcel, now with a solar system, generated $28,440 in 2014.”- Richie Duncan, Existing Industry Coordinator for Franklin County Economic Development
Let’s push back on nanny-state regulations that try to apply a one-size-fits-all solution that will only add to the cost of infrastructure development, delay job creation and stall investment in our counties that need it most. Why look across an ocean when the solutions are right here at home?
*Updated as of August 5, 2015