Last year, MIT proudly announced that it was building a solar energy plant in North Carolina that it claimed would benefit both the bay and “tar heel” states.
More than half a year later, those benefits are looking ever more theoretical with each passing month. “James McLawhorn, director of the Electrical Division of the Public Staff of the N.C. Utilities Commission, monitors utility company compliance with REPS,” Don Carrington reported in the Carolina Journal this month. “McLawhorn confirmed to CJ that electricity from the Summit Farms Solar project doesn’t help North Carolina meet its renewable energy goals.”
“Nor do counties collect the full amount of property taxes from commercial solar energy systems, as they do from other commercial or industrial users. In 2008, North Carolina enacted legislation exempting from local property taxes 80 percent of the appraised value of non-residential solar energy electric systems. Summit Farms Solar and similar projects are taxed at 20 percent of their actual value.”
“There’s no requirement that the facility participate in the North Carolina REC program to receive the tax reduction. Currituck County Tax Administrator Tracy Sample told CJ the preliminary assessed (taxable) value of Summit Farms is $30,079,090. That value is after depreciation, and the 80 percent exclusion in assessed value allowed under state law.”
“Based on our current tax rate of (48 cents per $100 valuation), the (latest year) amount of tax due the county will be approximately $144,379,” Sample told CJ. “Total property tax levies for Currituck County were about $30 million for fiscal year 2015-16,” Carrington reported.