North Carolina has long been home to beautiful and fruitful apple orchards.
Now, Apple is building a new kind of orchard in the state. Along with its expansive data center, the tech giant is planting solar farms. The company quietly built a solar farm adjacent to its maiden data center when it first moved into the state and broke ground on a second 20-megawatt phase of solar in 2012.
Together, the arrays will generate about 80 megawatts of power a year. Combined with Apple’s biofuel cell plant, the company will generate 124 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to supply 60 percent of the data center’s use or 11,000 North Carolina households.
The dramatic investment in renewable energy is spurred, in part, by federal and state tax credits for installing renewable energy systems, selling clean energy back to the grid, and an open auction system through the buying and selling of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates known as SRECs.
Solar investment isn't limited to Apple. Other businesses and homeowners are doing it as well.
The main factor that has led to the growing renewable industry in the “Tar Heel State” is that it has adopted a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) in 2008. This set of rules and regulations that dictate renewable standards statewide has paved the way for all investor-owned utilities in the state to supply 12.5 percent of retail electricity sales from eligible renewable energy resources by 2021. Moreover, municipal utilities and electric cooperatives must meet a target of 10 percent renewables by 2018.
To break it down by technology, North Carolina’s goal for solar-supplied energy to the state is 0.2 percent, and 0.2 percent energy recovery from swine waste by 2018, while the state has set forth to collect 900,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity derived from poultry waste by 2014. If all of this is actually achieved, the state of North Carolina will be producing a renewable energy total of at least 12.5 percent by 2021, but hopefully by that time we will be watching NASCAR events at the North Carolina Speedway under the glow of its very own 100 percent green-powered lighting system.
|Program Type||Personal Tax Credit|
Process Heat, Photovoltaics, pretty much any renewable energy generation method you can think of.
|Amount||35 percent of the cost of eligible renewable energy property constructed|
The installation date(s), proof of your costs for the installation of renewable systems, and a list of the
persons or corporation that supplied labor
|Official Web Site||http://www.dornc.com/|
North Carolina’s federal tax credit program currently offers residents a 35 percent tax credit for eligible renewable energy property constructed, purchased or leased by a taxpayer and placed into service during the taxable year. Since the passing of House Bill 1829 in 2010, this credit has been extended to wind, geothermal, small hydroelectric, biomass, biodiesel, and other renewable energy systems including the solar systems that the tax credits were originally designed for.
However, the tax credits are subject to various ceilings depending on the region and type of system. The credit limits for various technologies and sectors are as follows:
A maximum of $3,500 per dwelling unit for active solar space heating, combined solar active space and domestic solar water-heating systems, and passive solar space heating used for a non-business purpose.
A maximum of $1,400 per installation for solar water-heating systems, including solar pool-heating systems used for a non-business purpose.
A maximum of $10,500 per installation for photovoltaic systems (also known as PV systems or solar-electric systems), wind-energy systems, combined heat and power systems, or certain other renewable-energy systems used for a non-business purpose.
A maximum of $2.5 million per installation for all solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, combined heat and power, and biomass applications used for a business purpose, including PV, daylighting, solar water-heating and space-heating technologies.
|Program Type||Performance-based Incentive|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Methane, Anaerobic Digestion|
|Amount||Varies by technology and customer demand for NC GreenPower|
Sign up card filled out with NC GreenPower representative, or for small solar and wind systems
online applications are available
|Official Web Site||http://www.ncgreenpower.org|
NC GreenPower is a statewide program designed to encourage the use of renewable technologies by offering payments for grid-tied electricity generated by solar, wind, small hydroelectric, and biomass systems.
Payments for most green energy are contingent upon an open bid consideration process. However, owners of small solar and wind systems that generate 10kW or less are encouraged to receive program incentives at any time by filling out an online application available on the NC GreenPower website. Another important side note is that owners who opt to enroll in a net-metering program are ineligible to receive incentives through the NC GreenPower program.
As far as compensation goes, the rates vary depending on the type of renewable technology, and are not guaranteed because NC GreenPower is a non-profit organization funded exclusively by volunteers.
Generators are required to enter into power-purchase agreements with their North Carolina electric utility and with NC GreenPower, and production incentives are based on the amount expected to make the installation of renewable-energy systems approach economic feasibility based on payment per kilowatt hour (kWh).
For example, owners of small solar-electric systems can expect to receive $0.10/kWh from North Carolina Green Power plus approximately $0.04/kWh from their utility under the power-purchase agreement, for a total production payment of about $0.14/kWh. Owners of small wind-energy systems receive $0.09/kWh from the program, plus approximately $0.04/kWh from their utility, for a total production payment of about $0.13/kWh.
|Program Type||Corporate tax credit|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, passive solar, solar thermal, wind, biomass, others|
|Amount||35 percent up to $2.5 million per installation|
|Required Documentation||Installation and compliance records|
North Carolina offers a corporate tax credit similar to its personal tax credit for renewable energy installations.
The state will rebate up to 35 percent of the cost of an eligible renewable energy investment. The credit has been amended several times since its original passage in 2009 and has been extended through 2015.
The program permits:
Renewable-energy equipment expenditures eligible for the tax credit include the cost of the equipment and associated design; construction costs; and installation costs less any discounts, rebates, advertising, installation-assistance credits, name-referral allowances or other similar reductions provided by public funds. SB 388 of 2010 clarified that federal grants made available by Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009 do not constitute public funds.
The allowable credit may not exceed 50% of a taxpayer's state tax liability for the year, reduced by the sum of all other state tax credits. Qualifying renewable-energy systems used for a non-business purpose must take the maximum credit amount allowable for the tax year in which the system is installed. If the credit is not used entirely during the first year, the remaining amount may be carried over for the next five years.
For all other taxpayers, the credit is taken in five equal installments beginning with the year in which the property is placed in service. If the credit is not used entirely during these five years, the remaining amount may be carried over for the next five years. The credit can be taken against franchise tax, corporate tax, income tax, or in the case of insurance companies, against the gross premiums tax.
Corporate Tax Credit
Green Building Incentive
Personal Tax Credit
Property Tax Assessment
Property Tax Exemption
Sales Tax Exemption
State Grant Program
State Loan Program
Local Loan Program
Utility Loan Program
Utility Rate Discount
Utility Rebate Program
Local Rebate Program
State Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Renewables Portfolio Standard
Solar/Wind Access Policy
Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.