SEIA expressed disappointment over the lack of action on solar policy in the Palmetto State. Going forward, SEIA calls on the 2019 South Carolina Legislature to pass legislation that eliminates the state’s net metering cap and encourages utilities to buy more low-cost solar power from independent producers. Lawmakers left those provisions out of this summer’s budget bill
Ultimately, not acting on either of these important energy policies leaves ratepayers with fewer options to save on the nation’s highest electricity bills and get inexpensive, clean energy added to the South Carolina electric grid. Legislators should address these issues as soon as possible in the 2019 session to keep jobs and investment from leaving the Palmetto State.
The state House version of the budget bill had included a measure doubling the state’s net metering cap to 4 percent, which would have allowed more homeowners to lower their monthly utility bills. South Carolina utilities are projected to hit net metering caps within months, which will make it difficult for residents to adopt solar.
In addition, the state Senate had approved a provision requiring the Public Service Commission to take action that ultimately would have the state’s utilities procure more power consistent with open market policies. This provision would have helped independent solar businesses provide cheap, clean energy to all of South Carolina.
Following is a statement from Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs:
“The Legislature missed an opportunity to help consumers save money, generate more low-cost renewable energy, and give the economy more solar jobs. This is a deeply disappointing outcome for the people of South Carolina, who now will be paying unnecessarily high electric bills to the monopoly utilities. Without a permanent solution that enables solar businesses to compete and provides fair rates for consumers, the state will have a hard time growing solar and maintaining the thousands of solar jobs that came with the passage of 2014’s Act 236.”
Below is a statement from Thad Culley, Vote Solar’s regional director, following the decision:
“It is deeply disappointing that clean energy progress in South Carolina will be delayed another year, putting at risk 3,000 local jobs in the state’s once-thriving solar industry and limiting South Carolinians only true alternatives to monopoly utilities. We thank Representatives Nathan Ballentine, Peter McCoy and James Smith for their strong bipartisan leadership and for championing the energy freedom, lower utility bills and solar workforce that solar brings to South Carolina. We look forward to removing arbitrary limits on solar’s potential in next year’s session and reminding all lawmakers that this is an issue that has overwhelming support from voters across the political spectrum.”
News item from SEIA