Hundreds of solar energy advocates gathered Tuesday morning on the steps of South Carolina’s Statehouse. Lawmakers stood beside industry leaders who say a statewide policy is threatening to slow the solar industry’s momentum in South Carolina.
Solar took off following the passage of Act 236 nearly five years ago. The piece of legislation paved the way for solar energy in South Carolina and created thousands of jobs and allow dozens of solar companies to open up shop. However, many are saying that a cap threatens future growth. This 2% cap was initially implemented as a sort of starting point for solar industry in South Carolina.
H4421, also known as the SC Electric Consumer Bill of Rights Act seeks to eliminate that limit on solar.
“If not passed soon (it) jeopardizes a lot of these jobs. Jeopardizes a lot of the businesses that employ these people and is an economic loss for the state of SC,” Bret Sowers, the chairman for SC Solar Business Alliance told News 4. “We shouldn’t be putting a cap on a homeowner's ability to take matters into their own hands and generate their own electricity.”
This comes amidst many frustrations following the VC Summer scandal at two South Carolina nuclear plants. The $9 billion fail for two nuclear power plants that are unable to produce a single unit of electricity have many in South Carolina looking for alternative energy options. South Carolina District 3 Rep. Gary Clary is one Upstate legislator on board with H4421.
“We see what’s happened having that big giant hole in the ground that’s never going to be finished in form of a nuclear reactor,” Clary said referencing the VC Summer scandal. “So I think it’s important for South Carolina to look at a lot of alternatives with what we do with energy in this state - solar, wind, you name it, we’ve got to diversify.”
Utility companies like Duke Energy oppose H4421. Duke Energy gave News 4 a statement which said “We have successful legislation in place already – Act 236 – and it addresses all of the 'concerns' the rooftop solar developers are focused on now, including caps and what to do once they are met."
"(H4421) is a government mandated solar welfare policy that robs from pensions and retirement funds for many South Carolinians to bolster the bottom line of California’s SunRun and other out-of-state rooftop solar developers. It is absolutely not needed.”
H4421 is expected to make its way to the floor on Wednesday for a vote.
Watch on line 4/4/18 starting at 10 am EDT.