Clean Energy Generated More Than $28B Statewide Since 2007

May 14, 2019

North Carolina's solar industry continues to grow, according to a report from the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association.
Credit Dave DeWitt / WUNC

A new report shows the economic impact of more than a decade of clean energy investment in the state. The study from the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association finds clean energy development projects generated more than $28.2 billion dollars statewide since 2007.

Daniel Brookshire, the NCSEA’s regulatory and policy analyst, said the solar industry in particular continues to grow, despite the expiration of state tax incentives.

According to the report, North Carolina spent $1.2 billion on incentives for clean energy through 2018 and took in an additional $1.4 billion in revenue from clean energy projects.

“I think these number show that, even accounting for the incentives, this brought in more tax revenue then those incentives were, and it brought in a lot more investment,” said Brookshire.

North Carolina ranks second in the nation for solar power, though other southern states are looking to expand into the market.

“We see Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia starting to really grow in terms of solar,” said Brookshire. “For the moment we are still a leader, but they are nipping at our heels.”

Clean energy projects can be a boon to rural, low-income counties. The report finds rural Eastern counties have benefitted the most. Duplin and Robeson counties lead the state with more than $650 million dollars of clean energy investment apiece.

Brookshire said dedicating a parcel of land to solar power can provide farmers with a stable income stream.

“You know once you sign a contract with a utility that this solar project is going to produce X amount per year for the next twenty or twenty-five years, so that provides some stability no matter what crop prices do.”

There are 42 counties in North Carolina with clean energy investments totaling more than $1 million, up from 6 in 2015.

“Year over year, you see property tax increases and property tax revenue increases from those projects as they continue to generate and produce those revenues for the counties,” he said.  

“We’re seeing this investment in parts of the state that haven’t been getting this type of infrastructure investment in recent years and are in need of it.”