Bills seek to promote solar freedom in SC Legislature

Chris Carnevale | March 19, 2018 | Energy Policy, Solar

Charleston Rooftop SolarSeveral bills have been introduced in the South Carolina Legislature to promote solar freedom and reduce energy costs for consumers. These bills seek to help consumers, who are now burdened with having paid for the failed $9 billion VC Summer disaster, by providing options for low-cost power and customer choice. The first of these bills will on on the House floor this week, so South Carolinians–please make sure to contact your legislators today to let them know your opinion.

Solar Bill #1: H. 4421, The SC Electric Consumer Bill of Rights Act

H. 4421, the SC Electric Consumer Bill of Rights Act seeks to eliminate the arbitrary limit on rooftop solar. Currently, Duke Energy and SCE&G customers are facing caps on the number of customers who will get full credit for rooftop solar power production (capped at 2% of electrical demand). The caps were initially put in place to serve as a starting point for the South Carolina solar industry. The industry has proven itself in the past few years to lower customers’ bills and create thousands of jobs, yet now the cap threatens to block future growth. H. 4421 would eliminate the cap and free South Carolina’s electric customers to continue saving money with rooftop solar.

When you call you legislator, make sure you don’t confuse this bill with another “imposter solar bill” (H. 5045), which seeks to kill rooftop solar to protect monopoly utilities’ profits.

Solar Bill #2: S. 890, The Energy Freedom Act

S. 890 (House companion H. 4796), The Energy Freedom Act, would level the playing field and allow third-party energy companies to compete with monopoly utilities for providing the lowest cost power available. Senator Tom Davis from Beaufort, the bill’s sponsor, wrote in The State newspaper last week that, “unless and until we open up our state’s energy market to other providers, consumers will get no real relief. Passing S.890, a bill I filed a couple months ago, would be a modest step in that direction. It would: 1) require the large utilities to buy wholesale power from independent power producers if the independent power producers can build the power cheaper than the utilities; and 2) require those large utilities to then pass on the resulting savings to consumers.”

Solar Bill #3: S. 987, The Clean Energy Access Act

S. 987, The Clean Energy Access Act, is a bill to allow large electricity customers to arrange low-cost purchases of renewable energy directly with a third-party renewable energy developer, without getting blocked by monopoly utilities. These type of arrangements, known as power purchase agreements (PPAs), are allowed in many other states and have enabled large companies to lower their energy bills, lock in long-term fixed stable electricity rates, and be good corporate citizens while meeting their environmental goals. It’s clear that many of South Carolina’s largest employers want renewable energy, but currently, South Carolina’s utilities do not have programs to facilitate PPAs. The Clean Energy Access Act would harness the power of the free market to allow electricity customers to decide for themselves, as they individually see fit, to enter into cost-saving contracts and help bring online low-cost and environmentally-friendly clean power.

Please contact your legislators today to let them know your thoughts on these bills. Remember that H. 4421–and the “imposter solar bill” may come up on the House floor as early as tomorrow! Find your legislators’ contact information here.

Chris Carnevale
Chris is SACE’s Climate Advocacy Director. Chris joined the SACE staff in 2011 to help with building public understanding and engagement around clean energy solutions to the climate crisis. Chris…
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