North Carolina ranks 4th nationally for solar

(AP Photo/PRNewsFoto/Chevron Energy Solutions)

A new report out highlights the success of North Carolina's renewable energy policies, just as lawmakers are considering taking a key environmental tax break out of the budget.

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The report by Environment North Carolina shows the state ranks 4th nationally for total solar capacity and 9th per capita.

"North Carolina's pro-solar policies, like the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard and the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit have allowed us to become a national leader in the clean energy economy," said Rachel Morales, Clean Energy Organizer with Environment North Carolina.

But Republican lawmakers say those tax breaks are one of the few remaining "moving targets" in the budget, meaning they could be eliminated entirely.

A bi-partisan group of lawmakers met Thursday to advocate for the tax incentives. Republican Rep. Charles Jeter said it's easy to defend the credits to fellow conservatives.

"How do we get off dependence of foreign oil?" Jeter asked reporters at a press conference Thursday morning. "We don't have a panacea solution. We need to look at total energy policy and renewable energy is part of that equation. No one is suggesting that these tax credits should extend forever but we need a total encompassing solution and renewable energy is part of that discussion."

"Rather than undoing policies that are clearly working," Morales said, "we should be looking for additional ways to build on our solar success."

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