As an East Coaster from South Florida, and with brothers and a mother in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, New York, and Connecticut, I travel north and south on I-95 like a professional.
One of the moments on the trip that always make my heart bump is as we head south from North into South Carolina – and we see the palm trees lining the highways. We’ve entered the south, where the sun shines. And where one might think solar power would flourish…yet unlike I-95 traffic, solar has been slow moving.
The South Carolina House has passed H3659 – the Energy Freedom Act by a vote of 110-0, and the bill is now heading to the Senate. Solar proponents note that the net metering caps would be hit in less than a month without a cap extension.
Per a summary by SEIA, the bill offers seven area of benefit to the solar industry:
- Net metering for current customers extended until 6/1/2021, utility lost revenue recovery subsidy regarding net metering ends on same date, and the Public Service Commission (PSC) will make a long term rate determination.
- Large solar will see some pending projects get a 10-year utility contract at PSC approved avoided cost pricing, moving forward a firm avoided cost price will be determined, and interconnection standards – plus enforcement methods – will be designed and implemented.
- A commercial and industrial program will be created, no cost shifting to other customers allowed.
- Neighborhood/Community Solar programs will be created.
- A Customer Bill of Rights will be created that allows customers to have greater control of their electricity.
- Edits to the Integrated Resource Planning process that will require the analysis of multiple alternative futures that also include high levels of renewable and energy efficiency.
- Increased oversight by the PSC during generation procurement.
Last year, a bill to overhaul South Carolina’s solar policies suffered a sudden shift of direction after it was noted that a portion of the bill included a property tax exemption for residential solar power upgrades, and thus it required a 2/3 majority to pass. The vote failed at 61-44, as 82 votes were needed for passage.
One state representative in particular, Peter M. McCoy, Jr. (R-Charleston, below tweet) has been identified by Vote Solar and others as playing a big role in this bill passing. Good work sir.
— Peter M. McCoy, Jr. (@petermccoyforsc) February 21, 2019
Per the Solar Foundation’s National Job Census, the state has just under 3,000 solar jobs. Per SEIA, South Carolina has the 18th-largest installed solar capacity in the nation at 616 megawatts, and in 2017 it was the 8th-largest state market.