After unanimous support in the South Carolina House of Representatives, the SC Energy Freedom Act (H. 3659) moves to the South Carolina Senate at a vital time for the state’s solar industry. As net metering cap deadlines approach, the bill is more important than ever. With overwhelming public support, as well as support from legislative leaders, advocates are urging senators to act quickly to pass the legislation.
In a recent poll, a large majority of South Carolinians agreed that citizens have the right to produce and use solar power, and should not be limited by the current net metering caps. When asked, over 96% of voters said that consumers, both residential and business, should be allowed to use solar energy to reduce their reliance on traditional utilities. In addition, a large majority of voters said they supported net metering, with 80% agreeing that the current cap should be increased.
However, even after SCE&G voluntarily delayed its cap by nearly two months, Duke Energy has left its deadline at March 15. This means that, beginning today, Duke Energy Carolinas customers will no longer have the right to benefit from their own power production.
“As the sun sets today, families and businesses in the Upstate that want to go solar will no longer have the option to use the power they generate and, instead, would be forced to sell everything they produce back to Duke Energy at an artificially low price,” said Thad Culley, regional director of Vote Solar. “Even with a compromise bill that unanimously passed the House and appeared to have the public endorsement of all stakeholders, Duke Energy seems to now be pulling every trick out of its hat to stall the progress of the bill in the Senate. It is past time for Duke Energy to stop working against what their customers in South Carolina want. Now is the time for political leadership to deliver for energy consumers and pass H.3659.”
Net metering is a simple, straightforward billing mechanism that allows solar customers to earn fair credit on their utility bill for the excess electricity they generate and send back to the grid for local use. Even with tremendous support from the SC House and voters across the state, the problem of net meter caps will only be resolved with action from the senate. The bill comes after months of conversations between elected leaders, the solar industry, clean energy advocates and utility companies, with the compromise being widely accepted as the best path forward for all stakeholders. As energy usage continues to be a leading issue in the state, the bill will no doubt be closely watched as it is debated and voted on in the senate.
News item from Vote Solar