County commissioners want solar facility tax exclusion repealed

Published 6:43 pm Wednesday, August 15, 2018

County commissioners are aiming to repeal a state statute regarding taxes and solar facilities.

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution asking the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners to make the repeal one of its legislative goals for the next year.

The statute excludes 80 percent of the appraised value of solar energy facilities from property taxes the county can collect.

“A community hosting solar energy facilities should receive the full economic benefit of such development within its boundaries, particularly since solar energy facilities reduce open space and usable farmland,” the resolution reads.

Also mentioned is that the state legislature allowed the tax credit on renewable energy to expire on Jan. 1, 2016.

In November 2017, Beaufort County commissioners put a halt to all new solar farm construction in the county with a 1-year moratorium in order to research potential long-term effects of solar farm facilities. The moratorium also posed a request for a repeal of the statute, as the county is barred from collecting $545,297 per year, which represents the county’s 80-percent exclusion. Commissioner Ron Buzzeo stated previously that the number could go up to more than $1 million when the Wilkinson solar facility in Terra Ceia is operational.

Beaufort County has eight solar farms constructed on 479.46 acres of land, not including the 600-acre Wilkinson project.

According to county Manager Brian Alligood, work has not started on the Terra Ceia project and no new requests to approve construction of a solar farm facilities have come in to the county.

Alligood said several other counties have passed similar resolutions to repeal the state law regarding the tax exclusion, but whether attempts to do so will become a part of NCACC’s legislative agenda is uncertain.

“It’s just a way to try to get them to make it one of their priorities,” Alligood said.