South Carolina conservatives jump on solar bandwagon

2017-01-31 09_27_23-30380115.jpg and 23 more pages ‎- Microsoft Edge

These aren’t your father’s solar industry supporters – but the South Carolina industry is surely glad to have them.

Monday’s release of of the National Solar Jobs Census, compiled by The Solar Foundation, brought cheers from solar supporters in most states that saw the job growth – but in South Carolina it came from what might be an unexpected source.

When it was announced that South Carolina had added more than 1,000 solar jobs – bringing its total to 2,772 in 2016 – the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition (PCSC) released a statement lauding solar’s ability to bring jobs to the state – and encouraging state officials to create policies to keep the momentum going.

“Solar jobs are on the rise in South Carolina – if you have spent time in the state recently, you can see the panels on roofs and hear people talk about increasing their energy security and independence by investing in solar,” said Gresham Barrett, former South Carolina congressman and founder of the PCSC.

“We need to continue to promote free market principles to support a growing solar industry in the state, which is creating well-paying local jobs that cannot be outsourced. I support legislative leaders removing barriers to the solar industry in South Carolina,” Barrett added.

Barrett also praised solar for giving South Carolinians the opportunity to invest in energy independence while also lowering their monthly power bills.

Members of the PCSC came together last year to promote removing barriers and to encourage free-market principles to support solar. Though it is not the first conservative group to support solar – Debbie Dooley’s Green Tea Coalition and Barry Goldwater Jr.’s TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed) were among the pioneers – its commitment to supporting solar might surprise some traditional solar allies.

The South Carolina legislature legalized solar leasing and net metering in 2014, which allowed solar installers to create thousands of high-quality, local jobs in the state – but the outlook for solar in South Carolina is not universally sunny.

Solar proponents are worried the state will hit its arbitrary net-metering cap by the end of the year, and solar advocates are scrambling to work with the legislature to solve the problem before it stunts the growth South Carolina has come to expect from the solar industry.