News: CJ Exclusives

Hagan Firm Received Second Federal Solar Grant

USDA’s $50,000 in addition to $250,444 in stimulus funds

RALEIGH — JDC Manufacturing, a company co-owned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband Charles “Chip” Hagan, received a $50,000 renewable energy grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in July 2011, less than a year after it got a $250,444 stimulus grant for a related project.

The two grants were used for the installation of rooftop solar panels on a 300,000-square-foot building in Reidsville owned by JDC, and leased to Plastic Revolutions, a recycling company also owned by the Hagan family. Both solar installations were done by Green State Power, a solar energy contractor owned and managed by Chip Hagan, his son Tilden, and son-in-law William Stewart.

The stimulus grant, awarded in September 2010, was for a project involving solar panels, new light fixtures, and new gas furnaces at the JDC-owned building. The 2011 grant was for additional solar panels.

As previously reported by Carolina Journal, JDC Manufacturing reduced its share of spending on the first project from 43 percent to 23 percent and pocketed the savings. The grant application stated the total project would cost $438,627 with JDC providing “leveraged funds” amounting to $187,983, or 43 percent of the total. Even though the total project ended up costing $114,519 less than projected, none of the savings was passed on to taxpayers, and JDC kept the entire $250,644 in stimulus funding.

After a Sept. 25 report on the stimulus grant by the Washington, D.C.-based publication Politico, CJ reported that Chip and Tilden Hagan created the solar contracting company — originally named Solardyne — the same week in August 2010 that JDC applied for the stimulus grant. CJ also learned from the grant application that JDC’s decision to hire Green State Power/Solardyne to do the work may have violated the company’s conflict of interest provision that was included in the application.

Green State Power’s website contains information about the project. “Plastic Revolutions, a plastics recycling company located in Reidsville, N.C., originally installed a 53kW solar [photovoltaic] array on their roof in 2011. The smooth installation and quick production of power prompted them to install an additional 58kW array in a similar location,” the website says.

CJ has asked the USDA Rural Development North Carolina Office to review its file on the project. USDA spokeswoman Delane Johnson told CJ that USDA procedures require the agency to notify JDC Manufacturing before it can honor CJ’s request to review the file. She added that CJ would receive a response about the request within 10 working days.

When asked about potential ethical concerns at Thursday’s U.S. Senate debate in Wilmington, Kay Hagan offered a response that was not consistent with a statement her campaign had given to Politico. Campaign spokeswoman Sadie Weiner told Politico that Kay Hagan had consulted with Washington, D.C.-based Democratic attorney Marc Elias; at the debate, the senator said her husband sought legal help.

Don Carrington is executive editor of Carolina Journal.