2019 Looking Brighter for Solar in South Carolina

2019 is already looking to be another stellar year for South Carolina’s growing solar industry.

Earlier this month, Renewable Properties announced the construction of seven new solar facilities in Spartanburg County. These new solar facilities amount to $22.7 million in state investments that will have a significant economic impact and generate revenue for local schools.

This is just the latest in a succession of mostly good news over the past few years. South Carolina’s solar energy industry has been in the midst of a growth spurt due to 2014’s Distributed Energy Resource Program Act, which created a framework that allowed for a net-metering system and created nearly 3,000 jobs in just a few years.

With that legislation in place, businesses and homeowners have been able to earn credit for the excess power their solar panels produce. Unfortunately, the Act also established a 2 percent cap on net metering as a sort of test run in order to get a wide range of stakeholders to agree to try more solar on a limited basis. So, the industry is essentially a victim of its own success as it reached that limit much faster than anyone imagined.

Last year, an effort was made to remove that cap, but it was killed at the last minute due to a technicality.

However, voices at the state capitol continue to grow in support of new legislation geared towards further bolstering the industry. If passed, Senate Bill 332 will lend support to businesses and homeowners looking to make the switch by providing much-needed transparency and adjusted net-metering policies.

The new bills proposed in the house would raise the net-metering caps and safeguard future solar investment in the state. The bills were sponsored by Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), who understands that his state’s energy industry is best served with a free-market approach, where consumers choose the winners, not restrictive legislation.

In a recent announcement, top players in South Carolina’s solar industry urged state lawmakers to consider the great economic benefit these new bills would mean for the state.

“South Carolinians have made it clear that they want more solar energy freedom,” said Matt Moore, Chairman of the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition, in the press release. “As we look towards our state’s energy future, this legislation enables more independently funded, affordable, clean energy solutions, like rooftop solar, and will protect the thousands of jobs that come with it.”

Both Democrats and Republican consumers in South Carolina consumers share this view. CRES Forum recently conducted a poll that supports these trends nationwide: Conservatives are getting behind solar because they recognize the further potential for economic growth and job creation. Republican leaders like Governor Henry McMaster and Congressman William Timmons, who represents Spartanburg, have been enthusiastic supporters of the solar industry in the state.

Investments like the ones Renewable Properties is backing are vitally important for the health of South Carolina’s economy, and we sincerely hope that the state legislature decides to support their citizen’s energy freedom by passing the new bills. After all, ensuring that industries compete on a level playing field is what the free market has always been about.

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