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South Carolina’s Energy Freedom Act - Solar Boom Expected

Allison Friedman MA, United States 0 Ratings 102 Discussions 131 Group posts

Posted by: Allison Friedman // Rate It Green Admin

South Carolina’s Energy Freedom Act

The number of solar installations in South Carolina may more than double in the next five years with the recent passing of the Solar Energy Freedom Act, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).  The new law is exciting for a number of reasons, but perhaps most notable is that the South Carolina Senate and House votes were unanimous.  This bipartisan support is exciting and a great sign at a time when reducing energy use and promoting sustainable and renewable energy are critical to meet climate goals required for a sustainable future and economy.  

Essentially, the bill moves the state’s energy market into the leading edge, and out of a time when the state faced some of the highest energy bills in the country.  Fairness and transparency are emphasized, for both consumers and small businesses and power producers.  

Notable provisions include:

  • The extension of net metering at full retail rates for consumers in upcoming years, with an adjustment used on future study of the true/fair value of solar generated by consumers with solar installed.  Eliminating previous low net metering caps will greatly open (or reopen) the South Carolina solar market. Previous caps has served to limit opportunity and drive service providers and installers out of this market.  
  • Utilities must not discriminate between large and small generators of power, providing an equal footing with respect to pricing
  • The Public Service Commission (PSC) must initiate proceedings to review and approve rates and terms provided to large-scale solar facilities as well, reducing previous barriers to larger projects. 
  • Larger energy consumers will be able to negotiate directly with suppliers, in an effort to retain larger manufacturers and preserve jobs. 
  • The law authorizes the PSC to establish a neighborhood solar program to increase solar use among low-income consumers. 

According to Lynn Zurich, CEO and Co-Founder of Sunrun, “The Energy Freedom Act is a big win for all South Carolina energy consumers. “Policymakers listened to the people and delivered a bipartisan solution that lifts arbitrary caps on local solar energy, grows the economy, and gives more individuals access to homegrown solar a way to safeguard against the highest energy bills in the country.” 

Abigail Ross Hooper, President and CEO of SEIA, called the bill "a transformative victory” that will significantly lower electricity costs and create jobs.” Support for the bill was wide.  Ms. Hooper credits many significant organizational partners, 33 solar companies, and 32 corporations - including several multinational global corporations - with working towards and/or actively supporting the bill.  

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